SpaceX is still preparing to send 60 satellites into orbit as part of the Starlink project. SpaceX plans to cover the entire planet with global Internet access by the end of the 2020s.
On May 17, 2019, at 6:00 am Kyiv time, SpaceX was to launch a Falcon 9 rocket, carrying 60 satellites for the global Internet network Starlink, writes The Verge.
However, shortly before the launch, the launch was rescheduled. As noted in the company’s statement, “SpaceX postpones the launch of 60 Starlink satellites to update satellite software and re-triple checks of everything — we always want to do everything possible in the field to maximize the success of the mission. The next launch opportunity will be in about a week, the exact date is determined. ”
Earlier, SpaceX postponed the launch of the rocket on May 15 due to strong wind. Falcon 9 should start from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
One Starlink satellite weighs 227 kg, and their total weight is just over 13.5 tons, which is an absolute record of payload for the Falcon 9 rocket.
In total, SpaceX is going to launch almost 12 thousand satellites for the global Internet project Starlink.
A few years ago, Elon Musk stated that within the Starlink framework they would launch 4425 Internet satellites into low near-earth orbit. But a couple of months ago, the Federal Communications Commission of the United States approved the expanded SpaceX project and allowed the launch of an additional 7,000 satellites and, thus, the Earth will soon be surrounded by almost 12,000 space objects of only one company.
Why do you need it?
SpaceX is going to deploy a completely new network of cheap high-speed Internet access. Since the traditional broadband connection on Earth is not available to everyone, Elon Musk decided to give the world ” space Internet”.
It is expected that the Internet from Starlink will be available across the globe, the connection itself will be free, but the user needs to purchase a terminal that costs from $ 100 to $ 300.
At the beginning of 2018, Ilon Mask joked on Twitter that the word “ Martians” is a password for Wi-Fi of the new Internet.
How will run?
Since the current satellite Internet is too expensive and slow because of the distant location of communication satellites, SpaceX plans to place its vehicles very close to the Earth.
The main constellation of 4 thousand Starlink satellites will be placed at an altitude of 1110 to 1325 km. An additional 7,000 will be taken to low orbit altogether – from 335 km to 346 km.
It was reported that the “ backbone” of 4 thousand satellites would go into orbit not earlier than in 4 years, 7.5 thousand of SpaceX satellites would be in space in 6 years, and the Starlink project was expected to be completed by the end of the 2020s.
The main problem is the dimensions of the satellites: the length of each device is 4 meters, and the width and height is about 1.5 meters. Therefore, to launch the first 4 thousand. It will take more than 400 launches.
Are there any competitors?
As writes the Habr edition, the main competitor of Starlink is the British grouping of OneWeb satellites. True, because of the contract with Roscosmos, the project is under threat, because the Russian security service views satellites as a threat to the country.
In addition, the US Communications Commission authorized the launch of Internet satellites to three more companies – Kepler Communications, Telesat Canada and LeoSat. But their plans are not commensurate with SpaceX since each telecom enterprise is going to place in total about 100 satellites in orbit.
By the way, to help the company Telesat Canada with sending satellites into space will be the closest competitor of SpaceX – Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin company. As HB has already written, Bezos has signed a contract with Telesat Canada, and Blue Origin should soon begin satellite launches of Starlink’s competitors in space on the New Glenn rocket.
“ This partnership, along with the Blue Origin cooperation agreement with the US Air Force, gives New Glenn the opportunity to demonstrate its advantages in launching heavy and bulky cargo for commercial and government customers,” said Telesat CEO Bob Smith.
It is expected that launches of Telesat satellites will begin in 2021, when, in fact, the New Glenn rocket should be ready. Canadian telecom companies are confident that Blue Origin’s ability to launch dozens of tons of payload into low-Earth orbit will help them significantly reduce the cost of launching satellites into space.
The threat to space:
Contrary to the ambitious plans of commercial companies, experts are concerned about the increase in the amount of space debris, which could lead to a huge project Ilona Mask.
Say, the Internet is, of course, good, but a member of the communications committee, Jessica Rosenvourser, recalled that the screwdriver, which one of the astronauts dropped in space 35 years ago, is circling in a low near-earth orbit at a speed of almost more than 30 thousand km / h.
A small object is unlikely to fall into one of the satellites, but maybe it was he who holed the Russian segment of the international space station?
In order to avoid damage to the orbital property, Elon Musk promised that all Starlink satellites would be placed at different heights, and none of them would block the path of other spacecraft.