Elon Musk might be generating challenging headlines for his Tesla car division, but his Starlink broadband-by-satellite system is now growing rapidly.
May 7th, weather permitting, will see another 60 Starlink satellites launched into orbit and taking the overall total to some 480 craft orbiting. This will be the 7th batch of satellites to be launched on SpaceX’s highly reusable Falcon 9 rockets.
The last Starlink launch was on April 23rd and was the 84th flight for the Falcon 9 family.
This new batch will bring a start-date for Musk’s ‘beta’ testing of the system to begin. He has already promised a start within about 3 months for the “northern latitudes” of Alaska and Canada, and the those northerly US states this year.
Starlink says it will deliver high speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable. Starlink additionally says it will be rapidly expanding services “to near global coverage of the populated world by 2021”.
Each satellite weighs about 260 kgs and carries 4 powerful phased-array antennas to enable a huge throughput of data at what Musk says is lower cost.