Originally scheduled last week,one due to bad weather and another time to "maximize mission success". After these barriers were cleared, the Falcon 9 was blasted through the dark Florida coast and led to space with a typical dazzling lift off.
Falcon 9 Booster Successful Country Of course I still love you droneship stationed in the Atlantic after being used in two previous SpaceX launches.
A success, but for the company's future global internet ambitions, is the successful distribution of 60 Starlink satellites to orbit the much larger story.
. Finally, the service will form a network of satellites around the globe, with around 12,000 space robots in a constellation that will leave no corner of the planet without the internet. At 8:32 pm PT, the first 60 of these satellites were released from the payload in the Falcon 940 kilometers above the ground. Small boosters will see that the satellites push out to a path of 550 kilometers.
The satellites, which look like flat screen TVs, drifted out of the payload field at once. There are no distribution mechanisms on board, and then the package 60 packs slowly floating away from each other like a card that pops out of a hand. Each satellite weighs 500 pounds piece and includes a single solar panel, small thrusters, a navigation system that allows SpaceX to find them in orbit and a handful of altitude antennas to flip signals around. Simple solar construction is to minimize the potential error points and in the path folds out the array as an accordion.
Elon Musk tweeted Thursday night that all 60 satellites are online and ion thrusters would activate once in the early hours of Friday.
Six more launches are required before Starlink becomes fully operational, but this first launch gives SpaceX a chance to test the performance of their constellation. During a press event on May 15, Musk said "There is a lot of new technology, so it is possible that some of these satellites may not work" and suggested that there be a "small possibility for all of these satellites will not work. "
Fingers crossed, then.
Musk's SpaceX is not the only company trying to launch a megaconstellation of Internet-providing satellites. OneWeb, supported by Richard Branson's Virgin and Qualcomm, launched its first six satellites on February 27, back of Arianespace's Russian Soyuz-2. OneWeb has not yet launched a second series of satellites, but will eventually be flying elements in its constellation to orbit every 21 days. It will be partnering both with Virgin Orbit and Blue Origin to make the satellites fit.
Similarly, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon,. On April 4, it announced the satellite constellation, Project Kuiper, although the specifics and expected launch dates are currently unknown.
Updated at. 9:40. PT