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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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Elon Musk Apologises to UK Diver for Calling Him a ‘Pedo’

He also said that he would like to see "peace, quiet and execution" at the electric car company

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Elon Musk
Investors' backlash forces Musk to say sorry over 'pedo' remark. (Wikimedia Commons)

Bowing to pressure from investors amid falling Tesla stock, Elon Musk on Wednesday apologised to famed British cave explorer Vern Unsworth for calling him a “pedo” after he saved 12 boys and their coach who were trapped in a cave in Thailand.

Unsworth had dismissed the “mini-submarine” idea from Musk to save the boys, called it a “PR stunt” to which, Musk reacted in a bizarre way.

“Nonetheless, his actions against me do not justify my actions against him, and for that I apologise to Mr Unsworth and to the companies I represent as leader. The fault is mine and mine alone,” Musk tweeted.

“My words were spoken in anger after Mr Unsworth said several untruths and suggested I engage in a sexual act with the mini-sub, which had been built as an act of kindness and according to specifications from the dive team leader,” the Tesla CEO further tweeted to a user.

Earlier, Musk’s Twitter posts sparked backlash from shareholders and Silicon Valley analysts, who called his behaviour “immature and an impediment to the car company’s success”, The Guardian reported.

The company saw “the end of carbon as essential” but, was “frustrated that the real steps towards this are being overshadowed and undermined by this saga,” James Anderson, a partner at Baillie Gifford, Tesla’s fourth-largest shareholder, was quoted as saying.

Elon Musk
Elon Musk apologised to famed British cave explorer Vern Unsworth for calling him a “pedo”

Anderson said he agreed with some of Musk’s past remarks calling out critical analysts, “but this is different. We are in contact with the company and we are hopeful that it is being taken with due seriousness.”

He also said that he would like to see “peace, quiet and execution” at the electric car company.

If Musk’s behaviour did not change, “it could have a dramatic negative impact on the company. It has to start with an apology,” Gene Munster, Head of research at Loup Ventures, a venture capital firm, was quoted as saying.

Twelve boys and their football coach were rescued from the Tham Luang cave complex last week by an international team after a week-long intense drama.

Musk has faced increasing scrutiny in the past few months over his bizarre tirades on Twitter and his aggressive attacks on journalists, regulators and other critics.

Also read- Why Elon Musk has Suddenly Gone Ballistic on Twitter

The scandals come amid continuing complaints about workplace safety and a struggle to meet production goals at Tesla. (IANS)