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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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NASA to understand Earth’s climate by studying tiny sea creatures

For the study, the team is combining global data from NASA satellites with the ship, aircraft, and autonomous assets

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NASA to release two missions focused on moon soon in 2022. Pixabay
NASA positive about next planet-hunting mission. Pixabay

In a first, a team of scientists from NASA are on a research mission to study phytoplankton — the tiny sea creatures — and their impact on the atmosphere and climate on Earth.

The North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES), which is in its fourth and final deployment stage, is set to study to four distinct phases of the world’s largest phytoplankton bloom in the North Atlantic.

ISS is a permanent base for astronauts stationed in the outer sky. Wikimedia Commons
This study will help in understanding climate. Wikimedia Commons

Previous three deployments have confirmed a distinct shift in the annual cycle of the phytoplankton bloom as well as a lack of larger-sized plankton during the peak of the bloom.

“Most scientists studying the bloom head to sea during its climax in late spring and early summer. We did that, but we also went out during the other seasons to fully capture the minimum and transitions of the bloom,” Rich Moore, Deputy Project Scientist at NAAMES, said in a statement. “This thoroughness pays off as our ship-based scientists use these data to fully describe the entirety of the plankton bust/boom cycle.

Also Read: NASA sending first-ever mission to study Mars’ deep interior

“No one has done this before, and we’re excited about the science findings that are beginning to trickle out now,” Moore said. The study is set to research the “ascending transition” of the bloom, which occurs after the phytoplankton minimum in February.

In the March-April phase, the plankton are growing steadily, with their abundance in the water continuing to increase or accumulate toward the maximum of the bloom between May and July.

The NAAMES campaign also provides a unique opportunity for researchers aboard Atlantis to do experiments that study growth and decay of the phytoplankton population.

“For scientists watching the rates of growth, this is the exciting time, because the accumulation rate is expected to be going through the roof and stay high for the next few months,” Moore said.

NASA has been trying to understand Climate change for a long time. VOA

Rates of phytoplankton accumulation are critical for understanding the ocean conditions that lead to phytoplankton growth and its timing, a key to unlocking the environmental drivers and controls of biological dynamics, the report said.

For the study, the team is combining global data from NASA satellites with the ship, aircraft, and autonomous assets such as floats, along with laboratory research and balloon data. Scientists are also conducting meteorological balloon launches from the ship to understand the link between the ocean, atmospheric particles and clouds. IANS