Starlink satellite service “this summer”

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After a day’s delay, a SpaceX rocket placed the ninth batch of Starlink satellites into orbit at 5.21am, Florida time, on June 13th.

The normal Starlink manifest is 60 satellites per launch, but on this flight there was also a cargo of three ‘piggyback’ satellites for San Francisco-based Planet Labs and its SkySat Earth observation satellites, and thus SpaceX’s portfolio comprised 58 of its own craft.

A few minutes after launch, the Falcon 9 booster made a textbook landing onto the floating barge, ‘Of Course I Still Love You’. This was the third time that the booster had been recovered.

The launch means that SpaceX now has some 538 craft in orbit (and probably around 525-530 that are working as planned). Elon Musk says that his Starlink service will debut “later this summer” first serving Alaska and the northern US and Canadian regions. He has said that he only needs about 400 satellites in orbit to provide a basic ‘beta’ service, and that a fleet of 800 would provide “moderate” coverage for public subscribers/users.

The next Starlink launch is planned for June 24th.  Potential users can now sign up (on the Starlink website) for hard news and service announcements.

Musk’s plan is to girdle the Earth with tens of thousands of broadband-friendly high-speed satellites. Musk says Starlink “will rapidly expand to near-global coverage of the populated world by 2021. Starlink will deliver high speed broadband Internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable.”

All that Musk now do is to develop global partners and customers to start paying for a service…


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