15 Feb SpaceX Successfully Launches First Pair of Starlink Satellites
by Sarah Pereau | 15 Feb 2018 (updated 22 Feb 2018)
SpaceX successfully launched their first pair of demo Starlink satellites on February 22, 2018, another historic milestone since the company was founded in 2002.
The two broadband satellites, named Tintin-A and Tintin-B aboard the Falcon 9 rocket, launched out of Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The Starlink satellite network will provide broadband Internet with “gigabit speeds” to residential and commercial users around the world.
Several years ago, CEO and founder of SpaceX, Elon Musk, announced “plans to improve broadband connectivity in the U.S.” In early 2014, SpaceX confirmed the development of satellites, trademarked for “high-speed wireless Internet access” that would deliver broadband around the world.
The satellite network, called Starlink, is a non-geostationary orbit satellite system that will launch in low-Earth orbit (LEO) to provide true global coverage. A low-Earth orbit is an orbit with a maximum altitude of 2,000 km or less for periods between 84-127 minutes. According to SpaceX, the low-Earth orbit will boost capacity and reduce the latency of the broadband.
According to a SpaceX technical document, the system will consist of an astonishing 4,425 satellites. The satellites will be launched in phases starting in 2019. The first initial phase will consist of 800 satellites, which are expected to provide download speeds up to 1 Gbps with low latencies similar to wired broadband. In an application to the Federal Communications Commission, SpaceX has also proposed launching an additional 7,518 satellites into very-low-Earth orbit (335-346 km) for links “to and from associated earth stations.” An earth station is a ground-based radio station used for communication and relaying signals from satellites. By the mid-2020’s, SpaceX will have nearly 12,000 Starlink satellites in space.
According to SpaceX, the Starlink satellite system is designed to “maximize spectrum efficiency and broadband capacity, while leveraging lower orbits for lower latencies and safe space operations.” If SpaceX accomplishes their goals with the broadband satellites, it could revolutionize broadband access around the world.
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