SpaceX is in the process of deploying its Starlink internet network that will be comprised of over 4,400 satellites orbiting Earth. The Starlink constellation will beam broadband signal to customers worldwide, even those living in rural areas. The aerospace company hopes to attract enough customers from the telecommunications industry to further fund its ultimate mission to make life multiplanetary. Starlink’s revenue could provide funding for the development of SpaceX’s Starship fleet to colonize Mars.
For the past couple of years, the company has launched fleets of internet-beaming satellites to low Earth orbit in batches of 60 per mission. In 2019 SpaceX deployed at least 60 to 120 satellites per month; This year SpaceX aims to keep up the launch pace to increase its network’s capabilities. To date, it has deployed approximately 960 Starlink satellites. According to a United States Space Force Launch Mission Execution Forecast issued by the 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron today, SpaceX targets to launch the first Starlink fleet of 2021 next week. On Monday, January 18, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is set to liftoff from Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying the seventeenth fleet of 60 Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit. Liftoff time is currently scheduled during a six-minute launch window that begins at 8:45 a.m. to 8:51 a.m. Eastern Time [date and time are subject to change].
The 45th Space Wing Weather squadron forecasts 70% ‘GO’ weather conditions for launch day. –“On Monday, moisture from a low pressure system east of the Cape will inundate the area, causing an increase in cloud cover that tapers off through the day as the low moves further northeast,” U.S. Space Force forecasters stated. “This will lead to broken low-topped cumulus and stratocumulus that will remain through the launch window.” Full Launch Mission Execution Forecast pictured below.
Source: U.S. Space Force
The upcoming launch will increase the Starlink constellation to over one thousand internet-beaming satellites operating an altitude of approximately 550-kilometers above Earth. SpaceX engineers previously shared the company aims to offer service to more customers as more satellites are deployed. Currently, SpaceX is offering service to select customers living in high-latitudes by invitation only. Some of the locations where customers are located include: Northern United States, Canada, and Devon -a rural community in United Kingdom. Sign-up via Starlink.com to receive updates about when service will be available in your area.
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.