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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

<img itemprop = "url" src = " -2ba748588ae3-Screen_Shot_2019-09-18_at_14.41.58.png? Width = 540 & height = & fit = bounds & auto = webp "alt =" A rendering of a SpaceX satellite satellite in low-Earth orbit. [Earth's orbit] (Photo : SpaceX)

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.

According to Space Foundation, a Colorado-based nonprofit that advocates for space industries b world, the launch will propel SpaceX to Hindi position. 2 from an orbit orbit:

  • 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 [19659014] 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.
Florida Today

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 =" = 421,307, x0, y0 "data-mycapture-sm-src =" 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)