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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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Robyn Denholm Replaces Elon Musk As Chairman Of Tesla

Musk accepted the deal with the SEC "without admitting or denying the allegations of the complaint", according to a court document.

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Tesla appoints Robyn Denholm to replace Musk as Chairman. Pixabay

 Electric car company Tesla on Thursday announced the appointment of Robyn Denholm, an executive at Australian firm Telstra, to become the Chair of the Tesla Board.

Denholm takes over the role from Elon Musk who agreed to step down as Chairman of Tesla for three years and pay a $20 million fine in a deal with the stock market regulatory authority, Securities and Exchange Commission (S.E.C.) to resolve securities fraud charges.

Musk will remain as Tesla’s chief executive.

“Robyn will be leaving her role as CFO and Head of Strategy at Telstra, Australia’s largest telecommunications company, once her six-month notice period with Telstra is complete. Robyn will be serving as Tesla Chair on a full-time basis,” Tesla said in a statement.

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A Telsa car recharges at a Tesla charging station in Charlotte, N.C. VOA

To ensure a smooth transition during the remainder of Robyn’s time at Telstra, Musk will be a resource to her and provide any support that she requests in her role as Chair.

“Robyn has extensive experience in both the tech and auto industries, and she has made significant contributions as a Tesla Board member over the past four years in helping us become a profitable company,” said Musk.

“I look forward to working even more closely with Robyn as we continue accelerating the advent of sustainable energy,” he added.

Denholm has served on the Tesla Board as an independent director since 2014.

Her global experience in both Australia and Silicon Valley encompasses leadership roles across a range of technology companies, including Telstra, Juniper Networks, and Sun Microsystems.

Tesla CEO Elon musk
Elon Musk agrees to step down as Chairman (VOA)

“I believe in this company, I believe in its mission and I look forward to helping Elon and the Tesla team achieve sustainable profitability and drive long-term shareholder value,” said Denholm.

The US SEC last month announced the deal with Tesla, after it sued Musk in federal court for misleading investors over his post on Twitter in August that he had “funding secured” for a buyout of the electric-car company at $420 a share, reports The New York Times.

Also Read: Elon Musk Shows a New Transportation System Being Developed Under LA

Musk accepted the deal with the SEC “without admitting or denying the allegations of the complaint”, according to a court document.

His tweet about taking his company private, along with attacks on critics on social media, raised concerns with investors about whether Musk has become too focused on criticism from so-called short-sellers who had been making bets against him and the company. (IANS)