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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.
SpaceX scraps plan to upgrade Falcon 9 for more 'reusability'. Wikimedia Commons
  • 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.”

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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)

Next Story

Would Elon Musk Be Able to Drive Tesla Cars in India?

In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Tesla headquarters at Palo Alto, California and met Musk who gave Modi a tour of the company's electric car plant

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Tesla CEO Elon musk, board
Tesla CEO Elon Musk. (VOA)

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has once again vouched to make India his next big market but the question lingers: Will the electric car ever run on desi roads?

Breaking his silence over India after 10 months, Musk tweeted late Friday that he would love to be in India in 2019 or next year.

“Would love to be there this year. If not, definitely next! India,” Musk tweeted to a user.

His tweet came after Musk earlier blamed the Indian government’s restrictive policies for giving up on his India dreams.

Musk also blamed the FDI norms for the delay in the electric car maker’s entry into the Indian market.

Earlier this year, Tesla’s Indian-origin Chief Financial Officer Deepak Ahuja announced his retirement from the firm, thus bringing Musk’s India dream to a halt again.

Electric car problems
Jeff Solie plugs in his electric car Tesla sedan at his home, in New Berlin, Wis., July 13, 2017. Electric cars are seeing growing support around the world. But there’s a problem: There aren’t enough places to plug those cars in. VOA

Musk wanted to drive Tesla in India in 2017 and Ahuja, who worked out of Tesla’s San Carlos headquarters, quit the company in 2015 only to rejoin in 2017.

In May last year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he would still love to roll out Tesla electric cars in India but the tough government regulations have forced him to apply the brakes on his plans.

“Would love to be in India. Some challenging government regulations, unfortunately,” Musk tweeted in response to a Twitter user who wrote “No Tesla in India” on his Twitter handle.

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“Deepak Ahuja, our CFO, is from India.Tesla will be there as soon as he believes we should,” added Musk, also the SpaceX founder.

Tesla was expected to enter India with the Model 3 that sells for nearly $35,000.

In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Tesla headquarters at Palo Alto, California and met Musk who gave Modi a tour of the company’s electric car plant. (IANS)