SpaceX lofts another 60 satellites

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Despite a few technical and weather-related delays SpaceX successfully launched another 60 of its Starlink high-speed broadband-by-satellite craft into orbit on October 24th from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral (at 15.31 UTC).

This extra batch of 60 satellites was the 15th launch for the Starlink fleet, and takes the overall fleet size to well over 800 craft. Skilled observers monitoring the Starlink fleet say that around 820 are operational, and this latest batch will take the total closer to 895 but some 55 have for one reason or another been deorbited. Overall, this was the 100th successful launch that SpaceX has placed a cargo into space.

Barely three minutes after launch the Falcon 9’s first stage started its return to Earth, or at least to SpaceX’s floating barge ‘Just Read the Instructions’ waiting on an almost calm Atlantic Ocean and a flawless landing. This was the 63rd successful landing of a Falcon 9 first stage.

On October 20th, Ector County Independent School District in Texas announced their participation in a pilot programme to help local students and their families access high-speed, low-latency internet. Starting in 2021, Starlink will connect up to 45 households in the community as part of the pilot program. As network capabilities continue to grow, it will then expand service to an additional 90 households in the school district.

This modest expansion of the Starlink broadband service is the first officially announced that is in the southern US. Up until now SpaceX has only supplied Starlink service to its own ‘friends and family’ for beta-testing as well as a Native American tribe in Washington State in north-west US. However, in an FCC filing on October 13th SpaceX said it has started beta testing of the Starlink network “in multiple US states” as well as providing internet connectivity to previously unserved students in rural areas.


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