Tuesday, 26 May, 2020

High winds force SpaceX to postpone first launch of Starlink satellites

High winds force SpaceX to postpone first launch of Starlink satellites High winds force SpaceX to postpone first launch of Starlink satellites
Sandy Nunez | 18 May, 2019, 04:59

A European Space Agency (ESA) researcher says that the impending launch of the first batch of Elon Musk's "Starlink" Low Earth orbiting satellites could herald the start of the Kessler Syndrome, and turn space into a unsafe minefield.

The launch is a part of his company SpaceX's Starlink plan-an aspiring endeavor to bring high-speed, low-latency internet to anyone in the world.

But Sachdeva has raised questions about whether SpaceX is wise to plan a constellation of satellites that could eventually total 12,000. In February, Airbus SE-backed OneWeb launched its own clutch of satellites, while LeoSat Enterprises and Canada's Telesat are also working to build data networks.

OK, bad analogy, but for Musk to achieve his lofty goal, SpaceX will need to successfully launch 60 satellites now tucked neatly away inside a Falcon 9 payload bay. For now, SpaceX has the approval to launch 1584 satellites at a height of 550 km and the remaining for 1110 km to 1325 km.

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Furthermore, there is concern from some quarters that the upcoming launches of large satellite batches by SpaceX-and others pursuing similar aims, such as European company OneWeb-could increase the risk of unsafe collisions and space debris. The static fire test is complete and it is ready for launch on May 15th at 10:30 p.m. ET, given that the weather permits. Musk told reporters during a conference call Wednesday that the satellites in the first batch will be virtually identical to the mass production version.

Last year, SpaceX sent two prototype Starlink internet satellites into orbit during its PAZ Mission. SpaceX's plan for roughly 12,000 satellites far exceeds the 1,957 satellites orbiting the Earth now, according to a tally by the Union of Concerned Scientists. The Starlink team is now led by Mark Juncosa, SpaceX's VP of vehicle engineering and an eight-year veteran of the company. The cost of launching each small satellite is pricier than building it, he said. After 24 launches, Starlink would cover most of the world's population, and 30 launches would be sufficient to cover the planet, Juncosa said.

We all know how Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, loves to break the news on Twitter. After an orbit has enough satellites, it will be linked to the ground terminals on Earth.

Musk said Starlink user terminals will also use phased array, electronically steered antennas - a technology widely considered essential for the success of low-Earth-orbit broadband constellations.