Washington-SpaceX completed the second launch of 60 Starlink satellites on November 11, making its own system the largest commercial telecommunications satellite constellation in orbit.
SpaceX launched the satellite on the Falcon 9 rocket at 9:56 am. East, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, Florida. After more than an hour, the satellite separated in a low earth orbit of 280 kilometers.
SpaceX now has approximately 120 broadband satellites in low earth orbit and more than 75 Iridium Next satellite constellations, making it the largest telecommunications system in space. SpaceX estimates that it needs to launch at least 6 Starlinks, or about 60 satellites each time, to have sufficient numbers to start providing Internet access in high-latitude regions (such as Canada and the northern United States). After 24 launches, the SpaceX project has achieved global coverage, which is a milestone planned to be achieved in 2020.
SpaceX includes multiple updates to its second set of Starlink satellites. Lauren Lyons, an engineer on the SpaceX Starlink team, said in the launch network broadcast that the performance of these satellites has increased by 400%, can generate twice the in-phase broadband beams, and are equipped with a new Kaband antenna system.
SpaceX stated that one of the 60 new satellites may not be able to complete the orbital liftoff after being separated from the rocket. In this case, the satellite will burn in the earth’s atmosphere. The company stated that Starlink’s components “are not available at 100 degrees,” meaning that none of them should reach the surface of the earth. Of the 60 Starlink satellites launched by 4,444 SpaceX in May, 3 have lost contact and 2 have been selected to deliberately deorbit. SpaceX officials acknowledged that the company’s early satellites may malfunction, but have tried to compensate for this by launching them into a low orbit, where atmospheric drag will wipe out the malfunctioning spacecraft in 25 years or less.
SpaceX launched the second batch of Starlink satellites at an altitude 100 miles lower than when it launched in May, meaning the discarded satellites will be out of orbit faster. After leaving the rocket, the Starlink satellite uses krypton fuel electric propulsion to reach the target orbit.
The Federal Communications Commission approved SpaceX’s request to test its new satellite in an orbit of 350 kilometers on November 7. Although SpaceX’s first constellation deployment focused on the deployment of satellites over 550 kilometers, the company has obtained FCC approval to deploy approximately 7,500 satellites over 350 kilometers. The first two Starlink launches of
SpaceX were for a constellation that could be increased to 12,000 satellites, although the company’s recent submission to the International Telecommunication Union required an additional 30,000 satellites of spectrum. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said in May that Starlink will be “economically feasible” on 1,000 satellites and increase spacecraft to support customer needs.
SpaceX. Starlink’s launch on November 11 was the first time the payload fairing from a previous mission was reused. SpaceX previously used the same payload fairing at the Arabsat6A Falcon Heavy launch in April. November
The launch of No. 11 was also SpaceX’s first and fourth flight of the same propeller. The same booster rocket launched 10 Iridium Next satellites in July 2018, the Saocom1A satellite of the Argentine Space Agency CONAE in October 2018, and the Nusantara Satu satellite of the Indonesian satellite operator PSN in February last year. The
SpaceX landed the propeller on the “Of course I still love you” unmanned ship in the Atlantic Ocean. The company’s Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket is designed for 10 first-stage flights. The second stage of the rocket is a one-off. SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer
Gwynne Shotwell stated in September that the company can launch a total of 5 Starlink missions this year, and is expected to launch 24 Starlink missions in 2020.
SpaceX has proven to use Starlink satellites at a speed of 610 megabits per second. For the US military, Musk also tweeted via satellite. SpaceX expects to start regional services with Starlink next year.
“From tweets to 4K cat videos, we still have a long way to go, but we are already on the way,” Lyons said.
SpaceX is competing with several other companies, especially Amazon, OneWeb and Telesat, which are also seeking to deploy hundreds or thousands of satellites to achieve global Internet access from space.