A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket helped deliver another batch of 60 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit Wednesday, further advancing?the internet-beaming constellation that has already secured half a million pre-orders.
”To date, over half a million people have placed an order or put down a deposit for Starlink,”?Youmei Zhou, a SpaceX propulsion engineer, said during a?webcast?leading up to the 2:59 p.m. launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. “With every launch, we get closer to connecting more people across the world.”
SpaceX confirmed successful deployment of the?satellites – the 29th Starlink batch to date – about an hour after liftoff. Falcon 9 rockets have so far delivered more than 1,700 of the flat-packed spacecraft to low-Earth orbit from pads in Florida and California.
Zhou?said SpaceX has begun accepting orders in Belgium and the Netherlands, further indicating Starlink’s slow spread toward global coverage. Services are currently offered in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, and some other portions of continental Europe.
With each launch, the Seattle-based Starlink team hopes to improve speeds, reliability, and latency, though global expansion remains the primary goal. SpaceX will need thousands more satellites operating about 350 miles above Earth’s surface to provide worldwide coverage.
Beyond that, SpaceX will need to occasionally augment the constellation with consistent launches to battle orbital decay?caused by?friction with the upper portions of the atmosphere.
Wednesday’s liftoff from Launch Complex 40 marked SpaceX’s 16th mission of the year; the second flight for this specific booster; and the company’s 85th successful landing, this time on the Just Read the Instructions drone ship.
So far, the Space Coast has hosted 17 launches in 2021 with an accelerated cadence planned for June – SpaceX and United Launch Alliance are prepping for five total missions.
SpaceX’s first Falcon 9 launch, slated for 1:29 p.m. June 3, will fly a Cargo Dragon spacecraft from Kennedy Space Center with supplies destined for the International Space Station. A SiriusXM radio satellite,?GPS spacecraft, and multi-payload mission for the Space Force will follow through the month, though dates are still being firmed up.
ULA’s most powerful version of the Atlas V rocket with five solid rocket boosters, meanwhile, is targeting June 23 for its launch of a multi-payload Space Force mission known as Space Test Program-3. An exact time has not yet been released.
For the latest, visit floridatoday.com/launchschedule.
Contact Emre Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 321-242-3715. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @EmreKelly. Support space journalism by subscribing at?floridatoday.com/specialoffer/.
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