Spacex Readies for Launch of Falcon 9 Rocket, 60 Starlink Satellites

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The first 60 satellites-each of which weighs around 500 pounds-are meant to help SpaceX conduct important testing before upcoming launches over the next few months, which will carry similar payloads into orbit and kick-start "operational" capabilities of the Starlink system, Ars Technica reported. Fundamentally, when enough satellites are in orbit, they connect to ground terminals on Earth that are generally the measure of a pizza box. In the next six years, 4409 satellites will be launched SpaceX. He met with members of the SpaceFlight Insider team during the flight of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 551 rocket with the MUOS-4 satellite.

SpaceX first filed for permits for the new constellation of satellites in 2016.

A successful launch Thursday would "surely put SpaceX in the lead", said Shagun Sachdeva, an analyst at Northern Sky Research.

SpaceX was meant to rocket the first 60 of almost 12,000 satellites into orbit as part of its goal to cover the world in high-speed internet. But when asked about SpaceX's funading, he said the company has "sufficient capital" to carry out its plans. Starlink is only now authorized for operations in the United States. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell also recently stated this launch will focus on scaled down "test satellites" that, while very capable, lack intersatellite links. "It's extremely sparse", Musk said, according to The Verge.

Nicholas Johnson, the chief scientist for Orbital Debris, said: "Any of these debris has the potential for seriously disrupting or terminating the mission of operational spacecraft in low Earth orbit".

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In contrast to traditional dish antennas, electronically steered systems can track two or more satellites simultaneously, meaning no loss in connection when satellites rise and set over the horizon.

"There is a lot of new technology here, so it's possible that some of these satellites may not work", Musk said, adding that there is a "small possibility" that none will work.

Terminals will be the size of a pizza box. Most electronically steered antennas are too expensive for consumers and businesses to utilize. SpaceX will likely start selling connectivity later this year or early next year if all goes well, he said.

The goal is to use that network to relay internet traffic at close to the speed that light travels through a vacuum (which is about 50% faster than light can travel through glass in fiber-optic cables). Starlink revenue would also help fund a base on the moon, he said.

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