It’s about to get crowded up there.
Would it be cliche to call this “starting the new year with a bang?” Eh, don’t answer that. SpaceX started off 2020 right with the successful launch of another Falcon 9 rocket. Its precious cargo? 60 more satellites for the company’s ever-growing Starlink network. In case you forgot, SpaceX is in the middle of a long-term mission to set up a network of satellites with the goal of providing fast, cheap, and all-encompassing internet service to the entire world. So far, it’s going pretty good.
This is SpaceX’s fourth Starlink-centric launch so far, and the first of around twenty four planned over the course of 2020. After depositing its satellite payload in orbit, the Falcon 9 was grabbed by the SpaceX drone ship, Of Course I Still Love You, and is on its way to the retrieval site in Port Canaveral, Florida. Once they’ve cleaned the rocket up and prepped another batch of satellites, it’ll be going right back up into space for an identical drop off. Provided there’s no unexpected setbacks, there should be another couple of launches within January alone.
The actual end of the Starlink mission is still a ways off. There’s around 240 satellites ready to go in orbit right now, and by this time next year, there should be well over 1,400, but even that many satellites won’t be enough to give the whole planet coverage. It’s a long-term mission, but hopefully, it’ll pay off in the end.