The Strategist

SpaceX launches the first two Internet satellites

02/23/2018 - 05:44

The launch took place from the air base Vandenberg. Initially, it was planned for February 17, but it was postponed three times due to weather conditions and technical malfunctions.

Official SpaceX Photos via flickr
Official SpaceX Photos via flickr
The launch was postponed on February 17, first to February 18, and then to February 21 due to "the need for additional payload checks." The launch did not take place earlier because of the strong wind at altitudes.

"First two Starlink demo satellites, called Tintin A & B, deployed and communicating to Earth stations. Don’t tell anyone, but the wifi password is "martians", Elon Musk wrote on Twitter.

Apparatus Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b weighing 400 kg separated from the second stage in the zone of radio visibility on the 11th minute of flight. These are the first two of a system of 12,000 satellites, with which SpaceX expects to provide virtually any point of the Earth with the Internet.

The satellite communication system is called Starlink. Almost 4,5 thousand of the satellites of the system will float at an altitude of 1,1-1,3 thousand km. Another 7,5 thousand vehicles will be put into orbit not more than 346 km high, as follows from the SpaceX documentation.

The first stage of the missile was reused for today's launch, its return and soft landing were not planned. But SpaceX planned to catch the payload fairing, successfully separated in the third minute of the flight, in a net stretched over a special vessel and, possibly, reuse it. Later, the company reported that the attempt failed: the fairing fell less than a kilometer away from the ship.

Also Falcon 9 launched the Spanish government satellite PAZ of dual (military and civil) destination. The satellite was launched on a standard circumpolar solar synchronous orbit in the interests of the state company Hisdesat.

Many companies are eager to launch their own satellites. Among them, is Boeing corporation, which also announced the desire to establish a mass production of small satellites. The company has applied for a license, which will allow it to build from 1396 to 2956 satellites.

Boeing will be a direct competitor to satellites, developed by O3b (under the leadership of the parent SES), as well as similar projects by OneWeb and other players. In total, US regulators received 12 applications for testing satellites that provide Internet access. South Korean company Samsung said that it is also conducting scientific research on the possible launch of a constellation of 4,600 small satellites.

Now there are more than 1,400 active satellites in the Earth's orbit, according to independent observers. Another 2,600 inactive vehicles were launched at different times since 1957, when the USSR put the first satellite into orbit.