SpaceX launches 60 Starlink satellites aboard Falcon 9 rocket

Rodiano Bonacci
Ottobre 21, 2020

A step further, both of the Starlink-13 Falcon fairing halves SpaceX caught on October 18th had already launched twice before - the second and third times SpaceX has flown the same fairing half three times.

This is another impressive show of SpaceX's ability to maintain a very fast and frequent pace of launches, which has this year focused mostly on delivering its own Starlink satellites to orbit. Designated B1051 and originally tasked with supporting Crew Dragon's uncrewed orbital launch debut back in March 2019, Starlink-13 was the first stage's sixth successful launch and landing, making it the second Falcon 9 booster to complete six flights.

Less than a minute after stage separation, the two halves of the rocket's nose cone fairing, both veterans of two earlier missions, fell away for parachute descents to capture netting aboard waiting recovery ships. This extends SpaceX's lead in operating the largest fleet of satellites in Space Rabbit.

For Starlink-13, the use - and successful recovery - of a five-flight booster and two-flight fairing likely means that the marginal cost of the mission to SpaceX was little more than the cost of propellant ( $500k) and Falcon 9's expendable upper stage (~$10M), equivalent to an nearly inconceivable ~$700 per kilogram of actual Starlink satellites launched.

Starlink is already in the process of being tested internally by SpaceX employees and technicians, and the company is readying for a broader public beta to begin before the end of this year.

SpaceX also won the right from the Federal Communication Commission on Wednesday to bid for $16 billion in federal funding to provide broadband service to rural areas of the United States.

SpaceX says the Starlink network - designed for low-latency Internet service - is "still in its infancy", and engineers continue to test the system to collect latency data and speed tests.

Washington State emergency responders have set up a free Wi-Fi hotspot using the Starlink network for Malden residents, which was mostly devastated by bushfires in September.

Another initial user of Starlink is the Hoh tribe of Washington, where the service recently allowed it to offer more online education and telehealth services, according to a video produced by the state officials and posted on YouTube on Oct 7. Tele-health will no longer be an issue, as will tele-mental health. To achieve this goal, the company plans to launch at least 120 new Starlinks every month. Thus, the company's orbit satellite network has expanded a little more.

SpaceX has not provided details on how the engines on Sunday and the engines used during a Starlink flight on October 18 might differ from those used for the Global Positioning System mission.

The company added 60 satellites to the 6 satellites in the Starlink network with the Falcon 9 launch on October 6 and another 60 spacecraft on Sunday.

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