Elon Musk's SpaceX launches another 60 Starlink satellites — this time using the same Falcon 9 booster as its first crewed mission
- After four cancelled attempts, tech billionaire
Elon Muskfinally found the window to launch the next set of Starlink satellites today. SpaceXused the same Falcon 9booster that was used to launch the company’s first crewed mission in May with two National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronauts.
- The booster, dubbed B1058, successfully made its return landing on the deck of the SpaceX drone ship Of Course I Still Love You.
Deployment of 60 Starlink satellites confirmed https://t.co/x83OvjB4Pa— SpaceX (@SpaceX) 1601987610000
However, it wasn’t easy to get this launch off the ground. The take-off was cancelled four times before today’s success. Even today, the weather was a little suspicious with a brief rain shower and cumulus clouds in the sky. However, the skies were clear by the time the launch rolled around.
Falcon 9 booster’s third ride into space
This was the third launch of the Falcon 9’s booster dubbed B1058. On its maiden flight, the booster carried two National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) on May 30. One can still spot NASA’s logo under the scorched booster despite the wear and tear.
Its second trip into space was in July when it launched a communications satellite for the South Korean military.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship https://t.co/Jpkeiw9dIn— SpaceX (@SpaceX) 1601984341000
Today’s landing marked the 61st successful recovery of a Falcon first stage since Space recovered its first booster five years ago.
Repeated delays of SpaceX’s Starlink launch
The 60 satellites that will eventually form SpaceX’s mega-constellation capable of providing global high-speed internet were first supposed to take to the skies on September 15. That plan was cancelled due to poor weather conditions at the recovery site for Falcon 9.
Weather concerns were cited yet again for launches cancelled on September 28 and October 5. In between another attempt was scheduled for October 1 but got canned due to ground systems issues.
SpaceX’s initial plans are to set up a 1,440-strong mega constellation to provide what has been dubbed the Starlink System. According to Musk, at least 500 to 800 satellites need to be in the sky for internet service to start to roll out. And, he’s very near to that goal with 800 already in orbit around the Earth.
Going forward, the company has permission from the Federal Communications Commission to launch as many as 12,000 flat-panel broadband satellites. However, SpaceX has its sights set even higher. It is currently seeking approval to launch 30,000 more of its satellites for its fleet.
The company is already private beta-testing the internet system in house. It has indicated that the testing may extend to the public before the end of the year.
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