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posted by martyb on Monday January 06 2020, @09:17PM   Printer-friendly

[UPDATE (20200107_023514 UTC): Launch went off smoothly and on time. Booster landed safely on the drone ship. Second stage is in proper orbit and currently in coast phase leading up to satellite deployment.]

With Monday night launch, SpaceX to become world's largest satellite operator:

In 2019 SpaceX launched two batches of 60 Starlink satellites—one experimental, and the second operational. On Monday, the company plans to add 60 more satellites with a nighttime launch of the Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

If all goes to plan, this mission will be just the first of as many as 20 Starlink launches this year as SpaceX builds up a constellation of satellites in low-Earth orbit to provide global Internet service. SpaceX may begin to offer "bumpy" service by the middle of this year to some consumers.

Following this next launch, scheduled for 9:19pm ET Monday (02:19 UTC Tuesday), SpaceX will have a constellation of nearly 180 satellites in low-Earth orbit, each weighing a little more than 220kg. This will make the company simultaneously the world's largest private satellite operator (eclipsing Planet Labs), while also being the most active private launch company.

[...] Monday night's launch attempt will occur on a Falcon 9 first stage that has flown three times previously, in September 2018 (Telstar 18 VANTAGE), January 2019 (Iridium-8), and May 2019 (the first experimental Starlink mission). After launching, the first stage will land on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship offshore in the Atlantic Ocean. Another vessel, "Ms. Tree," will attempt to recover a payload fairing half. The Starlink satellites themselves will deploy at 61 minutes into the mission, at an altitude of 290km.

A webcast of the mission should begin about 15 minutes prior to launch.

Link to the YouTube webcast.


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  • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Tuesday January 07 2020, @05:40AM (2 children)

    by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday January 07 2020, @05:40AM (#940539)

    Are you using link-loss for fiber, or perfectly straight line-of-sight through vacuum? I would think they would be quite different.

    Is there some reason to assume the receivers telescopes aren't half a meter across? That's really a pretty small mirror when you get down to it. Especially since you're only trying to amplify a 1D signal, so the mirror doesn't need the precision of a telescope intended for imaging, just a nice shiny piece of stamped and polished stainless steel (at a guess...) close-to-parabolic light collector rather akin to a tiny solar oven.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 07 2020, @01:33PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 07 2020, @01:33PM (#940615)

    Assuming a free space vacuum path between the telescopes.
    The path loss is due to the beam width from the telescopes due to their difraction limit.

    Not sure about the precision of the telescopes. Seems like all the photons need to stay in phase to add together?

    To me, four 1/2 meter mirrors and pointing systems seems pretty big compared to each of the 60 sats they are launching.

    • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Tuesday January 07 2020, @02:53PM

      by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday January 07 2020, @02:53PM (#940640)

      >The path loss is due to the beam width from the telescopes due to their diffraction limit.
      How wide a beam are you assuming? A full half-meter at transmission? I know the wider the beam, the slower it diverges.

      I'm not sure just how big an individual satellite is, all I've found reference to is mass (100-500kg), but I'm assuming those round things are transcievers, and they could easily be a half-meter across: []