SpaceX targets to deploy the next fleet of Starlink satellites this week

by Evelyn Arevalo September 01, 2020

SpaceX targets to deploy the next fleet of Starlink satellites this week

Starlink Digital Illustration Created By: Erc X @ErcXspace via Twitter.

SpaceX is scheduled to deploy the twelfth fleet of internet beaming Starlink satellites this week. “Now targeting Thursday, September 3 at 8:46 a.m. EDT for launch of Starlink from Launch Complex 39A, pending Range acceptance — team is using additional time for data review,” SpaceX announced. The Space Force Range assesses airspace before launch to ensure conditions are safe and secure. A previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket is waiting vertically at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Launch Pad 29A in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The booster, production number B1060, previously supported the GPS III Space Vehicle-03 (Columbus) mission for the United States Air Force. The booster was recovered and it will now conduct the upcoming Starlink mission. After launch, the Falcon 9 booster will conduct a vertical landing on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship approximately 628 kilometers downrange Florida’s coast.



The Falcon 9 payload fairing is expected to carry 60 Starlink satellites, all featuring visors. This is the third batch equipped with deployable visors in an effort to decrease the satellites’ reflectivity as they raise themselves into a higher altitude. The deployable visors act as a sunshade to cover the brightest parts of the satellites’ chassis. The satellites may take over three weeks to raise into an operational orbit; each utilize onboard ion thrusters to reach an operational altitude of around 550 kilometers.

SpaceX currently operates around 648 Starlink satellites in Low Earth Orbit. Officials previously said they plan to roll out internet service in portions of Canada and Northern United States once 800 Starlink satellites are in orbit. This week’s launch would bring the constellation to around 708 satellites. The entire constellation will consist of around 12,000 satellites beaming internet globally. Company officials state SpaceX’s primary focus is to provide connectivity to rural areas on Earth, where the internet is nonexistent, unreliable, or too expensive to set up.

Starlink Terminal Digital Illustration Created By: Erc X @ErcXspace via Twitter.

SpaceX is private beta testing the Starlink network’s performance. During this testing phase employees, friends, and family received early access to the Starlink terminal and router to assess the satellites in space. The company has not released details about how many of these are operational, in-use during the beta testing phase. Anonymous Starlink Beta testers shared their internet speeds; compiled in a graphic via Reddit, pictured below. The beta testers used an online tool [] to test Starlink’s speed. The latency (Ping) rates between eight beta testers in Los Angeles, California ranged from 20ms to 94ms. And the download speeds varying from 11Mbps to 60Mbps, with upload speeds ranging from 5Mbps to 18Mbps. Other Reddit users from Seattle, WA, later shared a speed test showcasing Starlink can reach the 20ms latency that company officials said they target. The Starlink network is in its early development phase, the latency and speed of the service will improve and show consistency across users as more satellites are deployed. The next pair of Starlink missions are also planned for September [launch dates pending] these will bring the company closer towards offering service before this year ends.

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