Elon Musk has big plans for high-speed internet coverage worldwide. The company he founded, SpaceX, launched 60 little satellites into space last week. They were the first of thousands that Musk plans to send into Earth’s orbit. Their purpose? To provide global internet coverage.
The satellites were boosted into orbit by a recycled Falcon rocket. It blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Thursday night at 10:30 p.m. The rocket’s first-stage booster landed successfully on an ocean platform. In the meantime, the small satellites continued their journey upward into space.
Musk reported that all 60 of the satellites were deployed. The flat-panel devices are now online a few hundred miles above Earth. Compared to other satellites, the size of satellites in the batch is quite small. They each weigh 500 pounds. Typically, communication satellites weigh close to six tons.
The orbiting satellites make up a constellation named Starlink. Over time, Starlink will grow in size. Musk shared some important numbers last week. He says 12 launches consisting of 60 satellites each will provide high-speed internet coverage all over the U.S. Twenty-four launches will provide coverage for most of the population in the world. Thirty more launches will assure coverage for the entire world. How many satellites will eventually settle into Starlink? A grand total of 1,800!
According the New York Times, this was the third attempted launch of the Starlink system. Two previous launch attempts were postponed.
On the SpaceX website, the Starlink satellite system is described as a “next-generation satellite network capable of connecting the globe, especially reaching those who are not yet connected, with reliable and affordable broadband internet services.” With state-of-the-art technology at the helm, each satellite is equipped with a star tracker navigation system. This makes it possible for the satellites to be manipulated and pointed precisely by SpaceX. Each is equipped to avoid collision with floating debris, and to avoid becoming space junk later: 95% of each satellite is designed to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere after its lifecycle is complete. This is above and beyond the safety standards that currently exist.
The Starlink satellite project is taking a giant leap toward the future.
He determines the number of the stars; He gives to all of them their names. — Psalm 147:4
(A Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket with a payload of 60 satellites lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Thursday, May 23, 2019. AP Photo)