SpaceX, a private American aerospace manufacturer, and space transportation services company, have launched a Falcon 9 rocket Saturday at Cape Canaveral. They prepared the launch of the 60 Starlink broadband relay stations on Monday.
With the 60 satellites ready for launch on Monday, SpaceX will have supplied 180 signal relay stations to orbit for the company’s Starlink Internet network, making them the owner of the world’s biggest fleet of commercial satellites. That will make SpaceX beat the record set by San Francisco-based Planet, which operates a fleet size of around 140 satellites.
SES company owns around 75 operational satellites, making them the third-most spacecraft currently in commercial service. Iridium company has 70 of its new-generation voice and data relay satellites in operational service or filling backup roles.
SpaceX is planning on creating a mesh-like network around the globe by launching thousands of Starlink spacecraft in the coming years. Compared to SES and Iridium, SpaceX’s Starlink satellites are smaller, relying on numbers than more sophisticated satellites.
SpaceX Falcon 9 to deploy 60 new Starlink satellites today
On Monday at 9:19 p.m. EST, or 0219 GMT Tuesday, the new 60 Starlink satellites will be launched using a Falcon 9 rocket first stage.
The 229-foot-tall (70-meters) Falcon 9 is a two-stage-to-orbit medium-lift launch vehicle designed and manufactured by SpaceX. It test-flight on Saturday at midnight EST (1700 GMT) firing at Cape Canaveral’s Complex 40 launch pad, the 60 Starlink satellites are already mounted on top of the launcher inside the rocket’s payload fairing.
The company usually performs the static fire test without the rocket’s payload on-board due to the incident back in 2016 when during a pre-flight test-firing, an Israeli communications satellite was destroyed.
The Falcon 9’s nine kerosene-fueled Merlin 1D main engines fired for a few seconds at pad 40 Saturday, reaching up to full power with 1.7 million pounds of thrust as hold-down clamps kept the launcher firmly on the ground, SpaceX confirming a successful static fire test.