The mission is a test of the company’s ambitions to create a new line of business by connecting more parts of the world.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket waiting to liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Credit Credit SpaceX
The goal of Elon Musk, the founder and chief executive of SpaceX, is to send people to space. But how can he possibly pay for such an expensive venture? SpaceX, for all its successes, is still a fairly small company, and the profit margin on rocket launches is small.
The solution may be to start an entirely different space business: satellites to provide high-speed internet everywhere. The company’s next launch, scheduled for Wednesday evening, will put into space the first pieces for a constellation called Starlink.
“This would provide connectivity to people who either don’t have any connectivity today or where it’s extremely expensive and unreliable,” Mr. Musk said during a news conference a few hours before launch.
A Falcon 9 rocket is set to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida as early as 11:00 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, a 30-minute delay from the original scheduled launch. They did not explain the delay, but said on Twitter that the rocket was ready to take off. The launch can be pushed back as late as midnight.
SpaceX’s webcast of the launch is to start about 15 minutes before liftoff. Or you can watch the launch in the embedded video player below.
The weather forecast gives an 80 percent chance of favorable conditions.
This will be SpaceX’s sixth launch of the year. The company will land the booster stage on a platform named “Of Course I Still Love You” floating in the Atlantic Ocean.
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SpaceX – which usually ferries cargo to orbit for NASA or private companies – is its own customer this time. And the Falcon 9 rocket is not carrying just one satellite, but 60 identical ones.
Mr. Musk posted pictures of the Starlink satellites on Twitter.
The Starlink satellites will eventually form a constellation of satellites that are to offer internet to almost anywhere on Earth.
Last year, SpaceX launched two prototype satellites, called Tintin A and Tintin B.
The payload on this launch, at more than 30,000 pounds, is the heaviest ever launched by SpaceX, Mr. Musk said. He added that these satellites would be able to relay information by bouncing the data off a ground station. However, they lack a component planned for future versions: lasers that would allow the satellites to relay information to each other.
Each of the flat-panel satellites weighs about 500 pounds, powered by a single solar array. They are to be deployed about one hour after launch, steadily moving outward from a slowly spinning core. “It will almost seem like spreading a deck of cards on a table,” Mr. Musk said.
The satellites are to be switched on two to three hours after deployment.
Mr. Musk sounded a …read more
Source:: Daily times