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SpaceX launches Falcon 9 with first broadband internet satellites

According to the mission description, equipped with an advanced radar instrument, PAZ will cover the entire globe in 24 hours, serving both commercial and government needs

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The Falcon 9's first stage separates from the second stage moments after about two minutes from liftoff.
The Falcon 9's first stage separates from the second stage moments after about two minutes from liftoff. Wikimedia Commons
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  • A used Falcon 9 rocket blasted off on Thursday from Space Launch Complex 4E
  • The launch’s primary mission is to deliver PAZ, a radar-imaging satellite, into orbit for the Spain-based company Hisdesat
  • The company has been relatively mum about the debut of its Starlink satellites, and about the entire programme itself

SpaceX has completed another launch of its Falcon 9 rocket with first two prototype satellites of its global broadband internet-in-space project, Starlink, successfully deployed in orbit.

A used Falcon 9 rocket blasted off on Thursday from Space Launch Complex 4E at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The Falcon 9’s first stage separates from the second stage moments after about two minutes from liftoff.

The launch’s primary mission is to deliver PAZ, a radar-imaging satellite, into orbit for the Spain-based company Hisdesat.

“Successful deployment of PAZ satellite to low-Earth orbit confirmed,” the California-based company confirmed.

“First two Starlink demo satellites, called Tintin A & B, deployed and communicating to Earth stations,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to the mission description, equipped with an advanced radar instrument, PAZ will cover the entire globe in 24 hours, serving both commercial and government needs. Designed for a mission life of five and a half years, PAZ will orbit Earth 15 times per day, covering an area of over 300,000 sq. km from an altitude of 514 km and a velocity of seven km per second.

However, Paz was not riding alone on the recycled Falcon 9. Quietly on board were SpaceX’s two experimental broadband satellites, Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b, a big first step in SpaceX’s long-term plan to create satellite internet over the next decade.

The company has been relatively mum about the debut of its Starlink satellites, and about the entire programme itself.

Also Read: Elon Musk Unveils Plans to put Humans on Mars by 2024

“The Falcon launch carries 2 SpaceX test satellites for global broadband. If successful, Starlink constellation will serve least served,” Musk said on Wednesday.

According to the open files between SpaceX and the U.

S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in the coming years, the private U. S. space firm hopes to create a giant constellation of about 12,000 of interlinked broadband-internet satellites that will orbit in a synchronized dance above the Earth, delivering broadband access anywhere in the world.

A used Falcon 9 rocket blasted off on Thursday from Space Launch Complex 4E at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base.
A used Falcon 9 rocket blasted off on Thursday from Space Launch Complex 4E at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base. Wikimedia Commons

Some 4,425 satellites will sit at low earth orbit (LEO), an estimate of 1,150 to 1,325 km above the Earth, while another 7,518 satellites will be launched into very-low-earth orbits (VLEO), some 335 to 346 km above the Earth.

According to a tally by the Union of Concerned Scientists, there are 1,738 satellites currently orbiting the Earth.

Earlier this month, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai gave his endorsement to SpaceX’s application to operate two huge constellations of broadband satellites.

Falcon 9’s first stage for the mission previously supported the FORMOSAT-5 mission from SLC-4E in August 2017. SpaceX didn’t attempt to recover Falcon 9’s first stage after Thursday’s launch because it “was an older version booster.”

Also Read: NASA’s Kepler Discovers Nearly 100 New Exoplanets

However, there is another heightened interest in this launch.

By using “Mr. Steven,” a large navigable platform ship with extended “arms” and a net strung between them, SpaceX was trying to “catch” at least one of the two payload fairings that enclose the satellite at the top of the rocket.

These fairings were separated from the rocket at about three minutes after launch.

The value of these fairings is about $6 million, and recovering and reusing them would save money for SpaceX. Currently, a typical Falcon 9 launch costs around $62 million. (IANS)

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SpaceX Names Yusaku Maezawa As Their First Private Passenger

SpaceX in February transfixed a global audience with the successful test launch of its Falcon Heavy, the most powerful operational rocket in the world.

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Elon Musk
Yusaku Maezawa, the chief executive of Zozo, which operates Japan's popular fashion shopping site Zozotown and is officially called Start Today Co, speaks at an event launching the debut of its formal apparel items, in Tokyo, Japan. VOA

SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space transportation company, on Monday named its first private passenger as Japanese businessman Yusaku Maezawa, the founder and chief executive of online fashion retailer Zozo.

A former drummer in a punk band, billionaire Maezawa will take a trip around the moon planned for 2023 aboard its forthcoming Big Falcon Rocket spaceship, taking the race to commercialize space travel to new heights.

The first person to travel to the moon since the United States’ Apollo missions ended in 1972, Maezawa’s identity was revealed at an event on Monday evening at the company’s headquarters and rocket factory in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne.

 

Elon Musk, spacex
Elon Musk. IANS

 

Maezawa, who is most famous outside Japan for his record-breaking $110 million purchase of an untitled 1982 Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, said he would invite six to eight artists to join him on the lunar orbit mission.

The billionaire chief executive of electric car maker Tesla, Musk revealed more details of the Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR, the super heavy-lift launch vehicle that he promises will shuttle passengers to the moon and eventually fly humans and cargo to Mars. The BFR could be conducting its first orbital flights in about two to three years, he said.

Musk had previously said he wanted the rocket to be ready for an unpiloted trip to Mars in 2022, with a crewed flight in 2024, though his ambitious production targets have been known to slip.

“Its not 100 percent certain we can bring this to flight,” Musk said of the lunar mission.

SpaceX
SpaceX’s BFR launch vehicle is seen in this handout image provided. VOA

The amount Maezawa is paying for the trip was not disclosed, however, Musk said the businessman outlaid a significant deposit and will have a material impact on the cost of developing the BFR.

The 42-year-old Maezawa is one of Japan’s most colorful executives and is a regular fixture in the country’s gossipy weeklies with his collection of foreign and Japanese art, fast cars and celebrity girlfriend.

Maezawa made his fortune by founding the wildly popular shopping site Zozotown. His company Zozo, officially called Start Today Co Ltd, also offers a made-to-measure service using a polka dot bodysuit, the Zozosuit.

With SpaceX, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic battling it out to launch private-sector spacecraft, Maezawa will join a growing list of celebrities and the ultra-rich who have secured seats on flights offered on the under-development vessels.

SpaceX
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. VOA

 

Those who have signed up to fly on Virgin Galactic sub-orbital missions include actor Leonardo DiCaprio and pop star Justin Bieber. A 90-minute flight costs $250,000.

Short sightseeing trips to space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket are likely to cost around $200,000 to $300,000, at least to start, Reuters reported in July.

SpaceX has already upended the space industry with its relatively low-cost reusable Falcon 9 rockets. The company has completed more than 50 successful Falcon launches and snagged billions of dollars’ worth of contracts, including deals with NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Also Read: Why Elon Musk has Suddenly Gone Ballistic On Twitter

SpaceX in February transfixed a global audience with the successful test launch of its Falcon Heavy, the most powerful operational rocket in the world. (VOA)