This may be your most obvious opportunity to get a peek at SpaceX’s Starlink internet satellites before they’re plunged into orbit. Elon Musk has posted a photograph of the first 60 production satellites packed into the fairing of a Falcon 9 rocket in front of their launch this coming week. As should be obvious, the housing is full to the gills – Musk included that the satellites are “flat-packed,” without the dispenser you may expect for some missions.
Musk further noticed that the dispatch timing was variable, yet was “currently tracking” to May fifteenth (he additionally raised the likelihood of a May fourteenth departure). He cautioned that “much will likely go wrong” on this first deployment, and that it would take six progressively similar launches to accomplish “minor” broadband inclusion, and twice that for “moderate.”
SpaceX’s definitive goal is to put almost 11,000 Starlink satellites in low Earth orbit among now and the mid-2020s, giving rapid speed internet access to areas of the planet where broadband is rare, spotty or non-existent. This first launch is really just a small part of a long process, and that’s provided everything goes according to plan.
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