SpaceX launched another 60 Starlink Internet relay platforms into orbit on Sunday as the company stepped up testing of networks in Washington state and unveiled a series of nearly 300 satellites launched since June without spacecraft failure.
Nine Merlin 1D engines launched and propelled a Falcon 9 rocket from base 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday at 8:25:57 AM EDT (1225: 57 GMT), marking the 14th Falcon 9 mission to install satellites for SpaceX. Starlink Broadband Network.
Kerosene engines stopped to create a thrust of 1.7 million pounds, which drove the Falcon 9 rocket northeast off the Florida space coast. Two and a half minutes later, the first-stage amplifier shut down the engines and parted, starting to descend toward the SpaceX “Of course I still love you” spacecraft in the Atlantic Ocean.
Merlin Merlin in the second stage ignited to continue the mission into orbit, and the two-piece Falcon 9 nose cap was released for nearly three and a half minutes.
A fifteen-story first-stage amplifier landed on the SpaceX landing craft, about 630 miles northeast of Cape Canaveral. It was the sixth space trip back and forth for this accelerator called the B1051 – after its first appearance on the Crew Dragon spacecraft’s unmanned test flight in March 2019.
The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket successfully landed on the spaceship SpaceX “Of course I still love you” in the Atlantic Ocean.
This means the 62nd recovery of the Falcon rocket booster and the sixth landing at this stage.
Permanent coverage: https://t.co/B5TzWEpreQ pic.twitter.com/BzBcvQdqo5
– Spaceflight Now (@SpaceflightNow) October 18, 2020
At the same time, the upper stage of the Falcon 9 put 60 Starlink Internet satellites into pre-orbit. The upper-stage engine was later restarted to maneuver the cargo into an almost circular orbit 272 kilometers above the Earth with an inclination of 53 degrees toward the equator.
60 flat-panel satellites separated from the rocket at 9:29 a.m. EDT (1329 GMT) to complete the 70th consecutive successful SpaceX mission. The camera on the upper stage showed 60 satellites – each weighing about a quarter of a ton – flying without the Falcon 9 over the Indian Ocean.
“A great way to start Sunday,” said Andy Tran, production supervisor at SpaceX, which hosted the launch of the company’s online show on Sunday.
SpaceX reported that its two ships to recover both catches caught both halves of the launch on Sunday when the shells returned to Earth under parachutes. The grid on one of the vessels eased as the screen dropped into orbit, but SpaceX said its overseas recovery team was fine.
When the satellites were launched on Sunday, SpaceX put 835 Starlink broadband relay stations into orbit, including prototypes that will not be used for commercial services. This increases SpaceX’s leading role in managing the largest fleet of satellites in orbit.
The new Starlink spacecraft, built by SpaceX in Redmond, Washington, is set to develop solar cells and activate krypton ion thrusters to begin raising its altitude to about 550 kilometers, where they will begin providing broadband services.
The 60 latest Starlink SpaceX Internet satellites are set from a Falcon 9 rocket.
SpaceX says vessels in the Atlantic caught both halves of the cargo hold, but the net on one of the ships gave way. The recovery team is fine, says SpaceX.https: //t.co/B5TzWEpreQ pic.twitter.com/L1tTgVyDED
– Spaceflight Now (@SpaceflightNow) October 18, 2020
SpaceX plans to operate the initial block with about 1,500 Starlink satellites in orbit 341 miles above Earth. The company, founded by billionaire Elon Musk, has regulatory approval from the Federal Communications Commission to eventually deploy a fleet of up to 12,000 small Starlink broadband stations operating on the Ku-band, Ka-band and V-band frequencies.
There are also preliminary plans for an even larger fleet with 30,000 additional Starlink satellites, but the FCC has not approved a network of this size.
SpaceX says the Starlink network, designed for low-latency Internet services, is “still in its infancy,” and engineers continue to test the system to collect data on delays and speed tests. In a report to the FCC on Oct. 13, SpaceX said it has begun beta testing of the Starlink network in several U.S. states and provides an Internet connection to previously unused students in rural areas.
On Sept. 28, the Washington Department of War announced it was using the Starlink Internet service as rescuers and residents of Malden, Washington, recovered from a fire that destroyed most of the city.
Earlier this month, government officials in Washington said the Hoh tribe had begun using the Starlink service. SpaceX said it recently placed Starlink ground terminals on the administration building and about 20 private homes on the Hoh Tribe Reserve.
“We are very far away,” said Melvinjohn Ashue, vice president of the Hoh tribe. “For the last eight years, I’ve felt like we’re paddling down the river with a spoon and we almost don’t get anywhere when we get to the internet to the reserve.
“It seemed out of nowhere, SpaceX had just emerged and catapulted us into the 21st century,” Ashue said on October 7th. “Our youth can be educated online, participate in videos. Tele-health will no longer be a problem, as will tele-mental health. “
In an FCC report last week, SpaceX representatives wrote that the company has successfully launched and operated nearly 300 new Starlink spacecraft since June without downtime.
“SpaceX continues to invest in its rapid network deployment, including the launch of up to 120 satellites per month and the installation of extensive land-based infrastructure across the country,” SpaceX told the FCC.
SpaceX appears to be accelerating the launch of more than 120 satellites in October.
The company added 60 satellites to the Starlink network with the launch of Falcon 9 on October 6 and set up another 60 spacecraft on Sunday. The Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to take off from base 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Station on Wednesdays at 12:36 p.m. EDT (1636 GMT) with another cluster of Starlink satellites.
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