Elon Musk’s SpaceX Launches 2nd Batch of 60 Starlink Satellites

Yolanda Curtis
November 12, 2019

It is the second batch in a planned constellation of thousands meant to provide broadband service around the world.

The Falcon 9 first-stage booster that sent 60 Starlink satellites into space from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida was previously used to launch commercial satellites in July and October of 2018. An ability to reuse them could take another chunk out of the launch costs of the company's rockets, which stand at around $62 million per flight for the Falcon 9, and $90 million for the Falcon Heavy.

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SpaceX completed its second launch of 60 Starlink satellites November 11, making its own system the largest commercial telecommunications satellite constellation in orbit.

SpaceX landed the booster on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic Ocean. It did so using its vessel named Ms Tree, which caught the fairing half after parafoils slow down its descent toward the ocean. The compact flat-panel satellites - just 575 pounds (260 kilograms) each - will join 60 launched in May.

"SpaceX has increased spectrum capacity for the end-user through upgrades in design that maximize the use of both Ka and Ku bands", the company said in a press release on Monday.

SpaceX has regulatory approval to launch almost 12,000 Starlink relay stations in dozens of orbital planes. The idea is to provide internet access around the world from 42,000 small satellites.

Monday's launch, along with 60 satellites launched in May and another four batches planned for the next year or so, will put about 360 satellites into orbit, providing coverage over much of the United States and Canada in 2020.

SpaceX plans to continue launching Starlink satellites in batches and aims to provide service to parts of the northern USA and Canada next year, according to Starlink's website. SpaceX officials have acknowledged the company's early satellites may fail, but have sought to compensate for that by launching them to low orbits where atmospheric drag will sweep up malfunctioning spacecraft in 25 years or less. Its third launch was on February 22, sending an Indonesian communications satellites into orbit and the Israeli Beresheet spacecraft toward an eventual crash landing on the moon. SpaceX later said it corrected the problem.

In response to such reservations about the Starlink project, Musk has pointed to the thousands of satellites already in orbit and said "that we'll make sure Starlink has no material effect on discoveries in astronomy". It will be able to provide internet to populations who now have little to no connectivity, including those in rural areas where existing service is too expensive or too unreliable.

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