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SpaceX launches third batch of Starlink satellites for broadband internet

By Ramla Soni

Third launch successfully takes off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and delivers 60 satellites to an orbit 290km above Earth

SpaceX has successfully launched its third batch of 60 Starlink satellites after launching an initial group of 60 early in 2019 to test the technology.

This group launched aboard a Falcon 9 with a first stage booster that has already seen service in three previous missions. This includes two in 2019, one of which was the first bulk Starlink mission in May 2019.

The launch took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and delivered the satellites to an orbit 290km (around 180 miles) above Earth.

The satellites will perform diagnostics to ensure they’re in proper working order before moving to their final target orbits.

The company will also look to recover half of the payload fairing on this launch, with an attempt to catch the protective cargo cover gin using Ms Tree, one of two ships SpaceX has custom configured to catch the spacecraft component in a large net.

SpaceX said that although the satellites will be visible immediately after launch, after between one and four months, they’ll climb to their final target orbit and re-orient themselves to become “significantly less visible from the ground”.

The company also says it’s “testing an experimental marketing treatment on one satellite” to see if that further reduces their effect on night sky visibility for high-sensitivity research instruments.

Starlink will provide broadband internet connectivity to customers on the ground, starting with those in the US and Canada, with service potentially becoming available as early as later this year. However, to achieve global coverage the company will still need over 20 further launches,

SpaceX is an aviation and aerospace company that designs, manufactures, and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft.

Further reading: SpaceX to provide internet coverage from space by mid-2020

Further reading: Amazon Applies for US License to Launch Over 3,200 Satellites

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