SpaceX successfully launched the first sixty Starlink satellites. The launch of the fully loaded Falcon 9 rocket from the space company took place on a Thursday-Friday night from a launch platform on Cape Canaveral in Florida.
SpaceX has since announced that the sixty satellites have been successfully placed in orbit . According to Elon Musk , the director of SpaceX, all sixty Starlink satellites are online and the solar panels will soon be installed. The satellites were placed very close together and stacked in the nose cone of the Falcon 9 rocket, which had already been launched twice before. The first rocket stage of the rocket, incidentally, landed successfully at sea; that is the 40th time that such a booster has been collected.
The satellites were released last night at an altitude of approximately 440 km above the earth, after which they eventually climb to 550 km by means of their own pilot rockets. Each satellite weighs 227 kg and the total weight, according to SpaceX, is the heaviest load ever launched with a Falcon 9 rocket. Leaving the rocket was done in a special way, with no spring mechanisms being used. The upper rocket stage of the Falcon 9 rotated, so that the satellites are placed in space due to their inertia. According to Musk, that can be regarded more or less as handing out a stack of cards on the table.
These are the first sixty satellites that have to become part of a network of ultimately 12,000 satellites, with which access to fast and affordable internet is needed everywhere on earth. Although they are operational satellites, they deviate slightly from the regular, mass-produced specimens that will soon have to form the network. For example, they cannot communicate with each other directly; to prevent them from bumping into each other, signals must still be sent to a ground station on earth. The sixty pieces are actually a kind of test satellites that are used, for example, to see how such satellites can be orbited as safely as possible orbit.