SpaceX Successfully Launched Another 60 Starlink Internet Satellites Into Orbit
The Falcon 9 Heavy launch vehicle successfully launched a new batch of 60 mini-satellites into low-earth orbit on Wednesday, designed to continue the deployment of the global Internet coverage of the Starlink system, developer SpaceX said.
Now its orbital grouping consists of 420 spacecraft. SpaceX is currently the largest satellite operator in the world.
"Successful deployment of 60 Starlink satellites confirmed," the report said.
SpaceX's two-stage Falcon 9 rocket was launched at 22:30 GMT from the LC-39A launch complex at NASA's Cape Canaveral space center in Florida.
15 minutes after the launch of the rocket, a group of Starlink satellites, each weighing 260 kg, separated from the second stage and entered an elliptical orbit with a height of 212 to 386 km. After testing their performance by SpaceX engineers, the satellites using their ion engines will ascend to a normal orbit at a height of 550 km.
This was the seventh launch of a group of Internet satellites under the Starlink project since May last year.
Meanwhile, the first reusable stage of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle, which was used for the fourth time, made a successful controlled landing on the floating platform, Of Course, I Still Love You in the Atlantic, located 630 km from the Cape Canaveral spaceport.
In the future, SpaceX plans to deploy an orbital grouping of 12 thousand spacecraft of this type (and later - of 30 thousand) to create a full-scale network that will provide Earth's inhabitants with broadband Internet access in any corner of the planet. SpaceX said that in 2020, satellites will provide Internet coverage for the entire territory of North America, and by 2021, almost the entire planet will be covered. The total investment for the project is estimated at $10 billion.
Elon Musk, the owner of SpaceX, reported that at least six launches of rockets with 60 satellites, that is, 360 vehicles, will be required to provide the minimum coverage, and for the average - 12 launches, which will create a grouping of 720 vehicles.