SpaceX will expand its telecommunication ambitions Monday with the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, but the company has also quietly crossed a significant threshold and become the second-largest satellite operator in the world – on top of its already dominant position as a launch launch.
The 9:55 am liftoff from Launch Complex 40 will take 60 more of Starlink's satellite satellites to low-orbit Earth as part of a program designed to bring down the internet connection to the ground, which pushing the total constellation size to 120 after a debut launch in May. That would put it above heavyweights like NASA, the Air Force, and Iridium when it comes to thinner spacecraft numbers in orbit. then continue to refresh the constellation as some are lost to orbital decay. Despite the challenges and high costs of using a system of this size, CEO Elon Musk sees it as a way to fund his company's deep space initiatives, such as the Starship vehicle and the Super Heavy booster. . He also hopes it increases internet connectivity in non-existent regions of the world.
Monday tipping point launch
There are striking differences between the Starlink spacecraft and the vehicles operated by the more established operators .The security satellites, for example, can weigh over 12,000 pounds when fueled, operates thousands of miles above the Earth, and requires complex earth systems.The Starlink satellite, meanwhile, weighs only 500 pounds and operates several hundred miles in height.
- Planet: 197 Earth observation satellite
- SpaceX: 120 satellite-beaming satellites (117 after contact were lost with three in May; expected to deorbit and set on fire)
- Iridium: 106 satellite satellites
- Air Force: A mix of 98 classified, communications, Earth observation, position and navigation, and 19199015 satellite development] Spire: 85 Earth observation satellite  NASA: 67 science, Earth science, technology development, and satellite satellites (including the International Space Station)
With just two more Starlink launches, set to take place next year, SpaceX will eclipse Planet to become th e. 1 operator in volume.
"They set a very aggressive plan and relied on it," said Rich Cooper, Space Foundation vice-president of strategic communications and outreach. "The launch of Monday will further accelerate their achievement at that particular time."
One of the major advantages of SpaceX with Starlink, however, is that it does not design and build satellites. The company also controls the orbit ride through its family of reusable Falcon 9. rockets.
"Look, this is a competition," Cooper said. "Diversifying your portfolio makes you a stronger, more resilient company. When you can provide the full suite of services that SpaceX shows they can do – launch providers, integrators, and the (satellite) operator – it separates you from many competitions. ”
SpaceX launches 60 satellite communications satellites on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral on Thursday, May 23, 2019.
But it's not just about thinner numbers – the expansion of Starlink constellations and general messages is having a serious impact on the spaceflight, communications, and satellite. As one of the few companies authorized by the Federal Communications Commission to operate in space, SpaceX is pushing the boundaries of regulations.
"Launching themselves has less impact on the market such as what they do and what they signal they want to do," said James Dunstan, founder of Mobius Legal Group, a outdoor space and telecommunications law firm. "And that's got everyone in a really emotional mood." to over 40,000 satellites. The biggest concern, Dunstan said, is that some of the satellites will be orbital debris.
"The interesting part is that today, the FCC will be a real battleground for orbital debris," Dunstan said, noting that the agency, while competent, lacks the expertise to take the government seriously. the remains of lips. "Basically, the decisions of long-term policy decisions will come out to an agency that is not really equipped or trained to do so."
To date, SpaceX has said that low altitudes are actually an advantage for Starlink, enabling the older spacecraft to clear the sky. The company hopes to deploy thousands to deliver internet connectivity from outer space. "width =" 180 "data-mycapture-src =" https://www.gannett-cdn.com/presto/2019/05/12/PBRE/c37a9ae5-b2a6-4419-a89f-72cdbb062c2d-D6VKKwiUUAABZ_p.jpg?crop = 421,307, x0, y0 "data-mycapture-sm-src =" https://www.gannett-cdn.com/presto/2019/05/12/PBRE/c37a9ae5-b2a6-4419-a89f-72cdbb062c2d-D6VKKwiUUAABZ_p. jpg? crop = 421,307, x0, y0 "/>
Sixty-four Spacelink Starlink spacecraft can be seen packed into the nose cone of a Falcon 9 rocket at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. deployed thousands to deliver internet connection from outer space. (Photo: SpaceX)
Acquiring only 5% of the trillion-dollar global telecommunication industry, Musk said, will save on SpaceX for $ 50 billion a year. That's the magnitudes of over $ 4.6 billion available to launch services, according to the Satellite Industry Association's 2018 report.
"We see this as one more space for SpaceX to generate revenue that can be used to build more and more advanced rockets and spaceships, "Musk said before the first flight in May. "We think this is a major step forward in establishing a self-sustaining city and a moon base."
Experts also believe that the experience gained in expanding Starlink could be carried to distant places If it works as planned, similar constellations can be deployed in orbit around the moon and Mars, that connects the deep spaces that inhabit each other – and Earth.
Milestones for SpaceX
Payload in addition, Monday's launch will mark two major milestones for SpaceX.
First, the company flies with full reuse or the nose cone that protects the spacecraft during launch. Hardware, which can cost millions of dollars when simply thrown into the ocean after takeoff. During a Falcon Heavy mission in April, however, two aspiring halves recovered and flew with Starlink. Since this is an in-house mission, it will help SpaceX furthe r reduce costs. So far, no Falcon booster has flown more than three missions before retiring, but this one will help the company push toward its goal of using them 10 times or more.
About eight minutes after the lift, the 156-foot-high target in the first phase was a drone ship landing in the Atlantic. If it survives and is served, it may someday fly five hours.
Contact Emre Kelly at email@example.com or 321-242-3715. Follow him on Twitter Facebook and Instagram at @EmreKelly.
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