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Musk gets head start on Bezos launching SpaceX's own satellites

18 May 2019

Elon Musk's launch of an initial 60 satellites is a worry for the ESA's Stijn Lemmens, who told Scientific American that a business could launch all its satellites, then go bankrupt, and the satellites stay in space.

It's the first time the USA military will utilize a Falcon Heavy rocket, and it will reuse the two boosters that propelled Falcon Heavy's Arabsat-6A mission in April. With few clouds expected, the launch might be seen from around Central Florida. Elon Musk has shared the news in a series of tweets where he not only shows off the Starlink satellites but also shows a picture of SpaceX's Starman before the launch from a year ago to give his followers a sense of the scale. Current internet satellites struggle to provide this because many are in very high geostationary orbits-around 22,000 miles above the Earth's equator-meaning that data takes a relatively long time to travel between the surface and back, The Verge reported. Even partial deployment of Starlink would benefit the financial sector and bring pervasive broadband internet to rural and remote areas. Unlike with some other recent launches which had instantaneous launch opportunities, the Starlink launch will have exactly one and a half hours to get off the ground.

Musk tweeted a photograph of the satellites stuck into a Falcon 9 rocket on Saturday, remarking that they were "production design".

Musk said Starlink will have continual coverage of limited geographies at around 400 satellites, or seven launches including tomorrow's mission.

Musk said Starlink terminals, leveraging work by SpaceX's "chip team", can switch between satellites in under a thousandth of a second, and will support a system where the overall latency is under 20 milliseconds.

But Sachdeva has raised questions about whether SpaceX is wise to plan a constellation of satellites that could eventually total 12,000.

Getting tens, hundreds, or thousands of satellites into space and operational "is no small feat", he said. After their useful life, they simply would burn up upon entering the atmosphere.

Elon Musk's SpaceX has made a business out of launching satellites for commercial customers, NASA and the USA military. The company launched two prototype spacecraft nicknamed Tintin A and Tintin B in February 2018.

SpaceX asked for and received USA market access for a constellation numbering nearly 12,000 satellites.

Completing the project may cost $10 billion or more, according to Gwynne Shotwell, the president and chief operating officer of SpaceX.

Musk gets head start on Bezos launching SpaceX's own satellites