starlink

The fairing shielding 60 Starlink satellites awaits launch.


SpaceX

SpaceX and Elon Musk have a vision to blanket the Earth with its Starlink broadband service by launching tens of thousands of small satellites into a low orbit, and they’re wasting little time getting started. 

The company is set to launch another 60 of the space routers from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station just before noon Eastern Time on Tuesday, pending a successful static fire test Monday.

This will mark the fourth launch of a full batch of the version one Starlink satellites. That means this group will be highly reflective and likely visible from the ground at certain points, especially around sunrise and sunset, an attribute that has caused consternation in the astronomy community. SpaceX launched an experimental “darksat” designed to be less reflective amid the last batch that went up on Jan. 6.

The Starlink mega-constellation could eventually be 42,000 satellites strong, according to regulatory filings by the company. Following Tuesday’s planned launch, SpaceX will have launched a total of 242, including early test birds. 

SpaceX also looks poised to retrieve the Falcon 9 rocket, which has flown on two previous missions, on a droneship in the Atlantic and could try to catch the two halves of the nose cone (or fairing) via another pair of ships outfitted with giant nets. 

It’s already been a busy week for SpaceX in Florida, following the successful in-flight abort test of its Crew Dragon capsule, which could begin carrying astronauts to the International Space Station later this year. 

The Starlink launch is scheduled for 11:59 a.m. ET Tuesday and should be streamed via the SpaceX YouTube feed, starting about 15 minutes before launch. We’ll embed it here once it becomes available. 

source: cnet.com

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