SpaceX launches first 60 satellites of network

Source:AFP Published: 2019/5/24 22:23:41

SpaceX has launched a rocket carrying the first 60 satellites of its "Starlink" constellation, which is intended to provide internet from space in an array that could one day contain over 12,000 orbiting transponders.

One of the company's Falcon 9 rockets blasted off without incident from Cape Canaveral in Florida around 0230 GMT Friday.

An hour later, the rocket began to release the satellites at an altitude of 450 kilometers.

The satellites then had to separate and use their thrusters to take up their positions in a relatively low orbit of 550 kilometers.

"Successful deployment of 60 Starlink satellites confirmed!" the company said.

Their final orbit is slightly higher than the International Space Station, but well below the majority of terrestrial satellites - the highest of which are geostationary at 36,000 kilometers.

The launch makes Starlink an early forerunner of the technology. Startup OneWeb also has a foot in the door, well ahead of Amazon's Project Kuiper, the brainchild of Musk's space rival Jeff Bezos. Each of the satellites weighs 227 kilograms and was built in-house in Redmond, near Seattle. Starlink will become operational once 800 satellites have been activated, which will require a dozen more launches.

Posted in: AMERICAS

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