Featured Image Source: SpaceX
SpaceX aims to deploy thousands of internet-beaming satellites to offer service worldwide. The company's goal is to connect rural areas around Earth where terrestrial internet communication is unreliable and unavailable. There are currently around 768 satellites in low Earth orbit. SpaceX is speeding up Starlink satellite deployments with a pair of upcoming missions.
The first mission will take place Sunday, October 18th. A five-times-flown Falcon 9 rocket will carry the fourteenth fleet of 60 Starlink satellites to space at 8:25 a.m. EDT from Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Falcon 9 first-stage booster (B1051) that will deploy this batch of satellites previously conducted three Starlink missions; It also deployed RADARSAT satellite and conducted SpaceX's Crew Dragon first uncrewed demonstration (Demo-1) mission to the International Space Station. Engineers will attempt to land the booster a sixth time on the Of Course I Still Love You autonomous droneship at sea.
Then on Wednesday, October 21st, SpaceX will launch the fifteenth fleet of 60 internet-beaming Starlink satellites to orbit atop a twice-flown Falcon 9. The rocket is scheduled to liftoff at 12:26 p.m. EDT from Launch Space Complex-40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The Falcon-9's first-stage booster (B1060) previously conducted a national security mission for the United States Space Force when it deployed a GPS-III satellite to orbit in June. And early September the same booster deployed Starlink satellites. Around nine minutes after liftoff, SpaceX will attempt to recover the booster a third time by landing it on the Just Read The Instructions autonomous droneship at sea. Rocket reusability is an important innovation introduced by SpaceX to the aerospace industry; reusing rocket boosters significantly reduces the cost of spaceflight.
If both missions are successful, SpaceX will increase the Starlink constellation to around 888 satellites in orbit. All satellites deployed this month are expected to operate at an altitude of approximately 550-kilometers above Earth. Company officials previously said that 800 satellites could provide "moderate" internet coverage. SpaceX plans to roll-out broadband service in Northern United States and Southern Canada before this year ends. Potential Starlink customers may sign-up to receive updates of when the service will be available in their area via Starlink.com. Those living in high-latitudes might be selected to beta test the network soon.