November 11, 2019 • Evelyn J. Arevalo
Today, November 11, 2019, SpaceX successfully launched their second batch of 60 Starlink internet satellites on board a Falcon 9 rocket.
The rocket took off at 9:56 a.m. Eastern time, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The satellites deployed into a 280-kilometer low Earth orbit about an hour later.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/Rz6Y4EnEnM— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 11, 2019
SpaceX aims to beam internet to consumers anywhere on Earth, even areas in the world where internet is unreliable or non-existent. By providing affordable internet for all they plan to use Starlink's revenue to fund SpaceX missions of building a base on the Moon and a colony on Mars.
This is the second of 6 launches of 60 Starlink satellites. First batch of 60 satellites was launched in May this year. SpaceX says 6 launches of 60 satellites will lead up to the beginning of offering their low-latency, high speed internet service across the U.S. and Canada. They believe 24 launches of 60 satellites each will enable global service.
Successful deployment of 60 Starlink satellites confirmed! pic.twitter.com/bpBqO9oYR3— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 11, 2019
"We need 360 to 400 to have a constant connectivity where the satellites can end up through the ground talking to each other. Once we get to 1,200 satellites, we will have coverage of the whole globe."
-President of SpaceX, G. Shotwell
So far, SpaceX has around 120 internet broadband satellites in low Earth orbit.
The goal is to create an interconnected network of as many as 12,000 satellites. The company has U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval to launch around 7,500 satellites to orbits near 350 kilometers.
Starlink satellites use Krypton-fueled electric ion thrusters to reach their target orbit after leaving the fairing.
During the livestream of today's launch, Lauren Lyons, a SpaceX engineer said SpaceX included several upgrades to this second set of Starlink satellites. The satellites now have 400% more throughput, so they can now generate twice as many phased array broadband beams, also have a new upgraded Ka-band antenna system.
"We deployed 60 more Starlink satellites. This puts us one step closer to being able to offer Starlink internet service to customers across the globe, including people in rural and hard to reach places who have struggled to access high speed internet."
-SpaceX Engineer Lauren Lyons
If one of the new 60 satellites does not complete to raise into orbit after separating from the rocket, SpaceX said that the satellite will burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. They will burn up completely upon a controlled re-entry into the atmosphere to ensure there’s no space junk left behind once they’re no longer in use. Of the 60 Starlink satellites SpaceX launched back in May, 3 of them lost contact and 2 were selected for intentional de-orbiting, in order to test the feature.
Falcon 9 first stage supporting this mission previously launched Iridium-7, SAOCOM-1A, and Nusantara Satu pic.twitter.com/FKtpZPeWlP— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 10, 2019
This successful mission accomplished two new company records for reusing rockets.
For the first time, SpaceX has launched and landed an orbital rocket booster on a fourth mission. Lyons said:
"Let's turn it around for a fifth!"
And it flew with a previously used nose cone fairing the first time a rocket company has refurbished and used that part of a rocket again.
The company has been working to catch the fairing halves as they fall from space by using two catch boats that have a large net. SpaceX equips each fairing half with small steering thrusters and parachutes to 'steer' each fairing onto the set of catch boats.
On this mission they did not attempt to recover the fairings with boats due to weather conditions. They will retrieve the fairing halves from the Atlantic Ocean.
This Falcon 9 first stage successfully flew on the following missions:
• SAOCOM 1-A Mission
Date: October 8, 2018
•Iridium 7 Mission
Date: July 25, 2019
•Nusantara Satu and Beresheet spacecraft Mission
Date: February 22, 2019
•And Today, it successfully launched and landed on this second Starlink mission!
Falcon 9 first stage has landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship – the fourth launch and landing of this booster pic.twitter.com/qQvH7pwMDO— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 11, 2019
The booster preformed SpaceX's signature feat of landing vertically on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship in the Atlantic Ocean.
These Falcon 9 (Block 5) rockets are designed for 10 reflights of the first stage. So this rocket has 4 out of 10 flights. No other rocket company has successfully reused their spacecraft that way!
This launch is very important for SpaceX because besides setting up the foundation for their global satellite internet network, this launch took a huge step forward towards rocketry reusability.
Congratulations to SpaceX!