SpaceX launches 60 little satellites, with many more to come

SpaceX launches 60 little satellites, with many more to come

The company ultimately wants Starlink to be a much grander project: a group of potentially thousands of satellites swirling over Earth that SpaceX says could make available low-priced internet for a significant portion of the world's population that isn't yet online.

The Falcon 9 launcher, with 60 satellites, flew from the launch site at Cape Canaveral in Florida on Thursday, May 23.


Falcon 9, a two-stage rocket is designed and manufactured by SpaceX for the reliable and safe transport of satellites and the Dragon spacecraft into orbit. To achieve its long-term goal of providing global internet coverage, the company plans to release almost 12,000 Starlink satellites above the planet eventually.

The satellites were supposed to be delivered last Wednesday, but it was canceled because of high winds at the launch site. Musk noted that providing "minor" internet coverage would require six more launches of 60 satellites each, while offering "moderate" coverage would require another 12 such launches. This low orbit was chosen to minimise the latency of the internet connections.


At least 12 launches carrying similar payloads are needed to achieve constant internet coverage of most of the world, Musk said.

The first part of SpaceX's ambitious satellite internet network is in orbit. The satellites then powered up their onboard propulsion rockets to reach an operational altitude of 550 km (340 mi). It was, therefore, crucial for SpaceX to test that it could deploy 60 before it attempted to launch hundreds and thousands. The satellites include a lot of new technology, and he warned last week that some of them might not work.


According to the BBC, SpaceX said it intends to be a responsible actor and had given its satellites the ability themselves to track orbital debris and to autonomously avoid it. Each weighs 500 pounds (227 kilograms) and has a single solar panel and a krypton-powered thruster for raising and maintaining altitude. Thursday's launch puts SpaceX ahead of a handful of competitors including OneWeb and Blue Origin, which was founded by Amazon's Jeff Bezos.

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