SpaceX rocket with Starlink satellites

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket sits on its launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, in preparation for the launch of 60 Starlink broadband data satellites. (SpaceX Photo)

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says tonight’s scheduled launch of 60 Starlink satellites is aimed at spreading “fundamental goodness” in the form of high-speed internet access for the billions of people who currently don’t have it.

The first full stack of Starlink satellites is packed in the nose cone of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that’s scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 10:30 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. PT). At roughly 18.5 tons, the total payload mass sets a record for a SpaceX liftoff, Musk said during a pre-launch teleconference with reporters.

Minutes after launch, the first-stage booster is due to separate and land itself on a drone ship called “Of Course I Still Love You,” stationed in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast. Tonight’s twice-recycled booster was previously used for the Telstar 18 Vantage satellite launch last September and the Iridium 8 satellite launch in January.

About an hour after launch, the 500-pound, flat-panel satellites will be spun into low Earth orbit like playing cards spread out on a table.

The satellites were built at SpaceX’s development facility in Redmond, Wash., over the course of a few months. Eventually, the Redmond factory could be turning out more than 1,000 satellites over the course of a year, Musk said.

“This was one of the hardest engineering projects I’ve ever seen done, and it’s been executed really well.” Musk said. “I think it is important to acknowledge that there is a lot of new technology here. So it’s possible that some of these satellites may not work. In fact, there’s a small possibility that all of the satellites will not work.”

The payoff? “The …read more

Source:: GeekWire


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