Saturday, 24 August, 2019

SpaceX to launch its first 60 internet-beaming satellites this week

SpaceX Starlink satellites shown crammed on a Falcon ready for launch Elon Musk just showed off 60 of the first SpaceX satellites that could change the internet as we know it
Emmett Howard | 14 May, 2019, 22:26

Competing with Telesat, Facebook, Boeing, OneWeb, LeoSat Enterprises, and Amazon's Project Kuiper, Elon Musk aims to build a satellite broadband constellation in low Earth orbit.

The duo seemed to perform well, according to Musk and SpaceX investors, though the company did end up keeping the satellites in a lower orbit than originally planned.

But those satellites, named "Tintin A" and "Tintin B", were trial satellites, and the latest are production design-level, Musk said on Saturday.

If successful, not only will the Starlink constellation bypass complicated ground-based infrastructure and deliver internet to remote areas of the world, but it could become a cash cow that helps fund Musk's dream to colonize Mars, according to spaceflight experts.

Deployment of thousands of satellites created to provide worldwide low-priced internet access will take a level up with the help of the demonstration mission.

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However, the FCC dismissed both of these, saying that they didn't feel SpaceX's satellites would interfere with other companies' satellites' frequencies, nor did they think the satellits would pose a collision risk due to their ability to maneuver out of the way of approaching satellites. The CEO also warned that there might be an issue since this is the first proper Starlink mission following an early 2018 launch that sent two demo satellites skywards.

The SpaceX boss tweeted a shot of the flat-packed satellites flat-packed in the rocket's nose cone.

But there are also many more launches to come. One Twitter user was quick to point out that seven launches would equal 420 satellites, a number that Musk has enjoyed.

"Much will likely go wrong on 1st mission" added Musk in an expectation managing exercise, code for "it might actually just blow up on the launchpad". The satellites will be launched into three different orbital shells.

It's unclear how many launches will be needed to get all the hardware up in orbit, and for now Musk only previewed 17 such missions.

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