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SpaceX is about to send another 60 satellites into space

Published Mar 23rd, 2021 7:13PM EDT
starlink internet
Image: SpaceX

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If there’s one thing you can say about SpaceX — and let’s be honest, there are a LOT of things you can say about SpaceX — it’s that the company is incredibly consistent. Even in the midst of the global pandemic in 2020, SpaceX was still carrying out a steady flow of launches and sending tons of satellites into space. Now, in yet another effort to bolster its fledgling Starlink internet network, the company is poised to launch another batch of 60 satellites this week.

As Florida Today reports, the weather is looking favorable for a launch on Wednesday morning. The mission will see dozens of new Starlink satellites deposited into orbit around Earth where they will spread out and join over a thousand other Starlink satellites already in orbit. With each launch and new batch of satellites, Starlink gets a little bit stronger, and while the number of satellites in orbit is nowhere near as large it will be in the future, it’s already an impressive project.

Florida Today reports that the weather forecast showed a 90% chance of “go,” which means near certainty that one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets will be carrying its haul of satellites into space on Wednesday. The mission will begin at Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral in Florida and will be the 23rd mission in the Starlink program. There are just over a thousand Starlink satellites already in space, with just a handful having been deorbited for a variety of reasons.

There are currently over 1,260 active Starlink satellites orbiting Earth out of a total of 1,325 that have been launched. That’s a pretty impressive number, especially when you consider that nobody had really attempted anything like this before. Still, it’s a small fraction of the number of satellites that SpaceX eventually wants to have up and running.

Thus far, SpaceX has gained approval for 12,000 Starlink satellites to be launched. That’s a big number already, but SpaceX is dreaming even bigger. The company has already asked for permission to launch another 30,000 satellites on top of what was already approved, and it says it will require that many pieces of orbiting hardware in order for its network to serve the entire planet.

The idea here isn’t so much to replace existing internet services but to offer high-speed data capabilities to areas that simply can’t have access to it with current technologies. Individuals in rural areas or countries with poor infrastructure oftentimes don’t have access to any form of high-speed internet, and Starlink would change that. It’ll be some time before the company has enough satellites in orbit to offer service on a global scale — not to mention a lot of red tape and hoops to jump through — but if it succeeds in building the massive network it dreams of, it could become the go-to for internet service in many areas of the globe.

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