SpaceX launches 60 Starlink internet satellites

The highly anticipated arrival of Spacex into the satellite industry took place this week

Associated Press

SpaceX’s highly anticipated entrance into the satellite industry kicked off Thursday night with a launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s launch complex 40.

At 10:30 p.m., a Falcon 9 rocket took off with 60 small satellites packed in its fairing, signaling the first launch of SpaceX’s next-generation Starlink constellation. The payload weighed in at 30,000 pounds, making it the heaviest ever launch for Elon Musk’s rocket company.

About eight minutes after liftoff, the first stage booster on the rocket zipped back down to Earth and landed on “Of Course I Still Love You,” the company’s drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean, marking the third successful landing for that particular first stage.

And an hour after the Falcon 9 headed to space, another milestone: The 60 satellites were also successfully deployed, fanning out like a deck of cards in low-Earth orbit.

Starlink has been a longtime effort for SpaceX, which endeavors to create a constellation of satellites that would blanket the globe with high-speed Internet, even in remote areas.

To do that though, there will need to be thousands of Starlink satellites in orbit to provide fast, reliable connectivity. The Federal Communications Commission has approved SpaceX for about 12,000 satellites within its Starlink constellation.

To mitigate concerns that the satellites could contribute to space debris, SpaceX said 95% of the satellites’ components will burn in the Earth’s atmosphere once the satellites reach the end of their life cycles.

But developing the Starlink constellation has been a supremely challenging endeavor, Musk said on a call with reporters this month.

“There is a lot of technology,” Musk said. “This is very hard.”

In fact, SpaceX scrubbed a launch last week to “update satellite software and triple check everything again.”

As the satellites are deployed, the company will monitor how successfully they perform in orbit. Ideally, Musk said SpaceX would like to see about six more launches this year of about 60 satellites each to obtain good connectivity over the United States. Twelve additional launches could get SpaceX moderate global connectivity.

The company plans to use the revenue from the Starlink endeavor to fund some of its other ambitions of setting up a lunar base and going to Mars.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Members of Gravitics' team and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen stand in front of a mockup of a space module interior on Thursday, August 17, 2023 at Gravitics' Marysville facility. Left to right: Mark Tiner, government affairs representative; Jiral Shah, business development; U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen; Mike DeRosa, marketing; Scott Macklin, lead engineer. (Gravitics.)
Marysville startup prepares for space — the financial frontier

Gravitics is building space station module prototypes to one day house space travelers and researchers.

Orca Mobility designer Mike Lowell, left, and CEO Bill Messing at their office on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023 in Granite Falls, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Could a Granite Falls startup’s three-wheeler revolutionize delivery?

Orca Mobility’s battery-powered, three-wheel truck is built on a motorcycle frame. Now, they aim to make it self-driving.

Catherine Robinweiler leads the class during a lab session at Edmonds College on April 29, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Grant aids apprenticeship program in Mukilteo and elsewhere

A $5.6 million U.S. Department of Labor grant will boost apprenticeships for special education teachers and nurses.

Peoples Bank is placing piggy banks with $30 around Washington starting Aug. 1.
(Peoples Bank)
Peoples Bank grant program seeks proposals from nonprofits

Peoples Bank offers up to $35,000 in Impact Grants aimed at helping communities. Applications due Sept. 15.

Workers build the first all-electric commuter plane, the Eviation Alice, at Eviation's plant on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021 in Arlington, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Arlington’s Eviation selects Seattle firm to configure production plane

TLG Aerospace chosen to configure Eviation Aircraft’s all-electric commuter plane for mass production.

Jim Simpson leans on Blue Ray III, one of his designs, in his shop on Friday, August 25, 2023, in Clinton, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Whidbey Island master mechanic building dream car from “Speed Racer”

Jim Simpson, 68, of Clinton, is using his knowledge of sports cars to assemble his own Mach Five.

An Amazon worker transfers and organizes items at the new PAE2 Amazon Fulfillment Center on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amazon cuts ribbon on colossal $355M fulfillment center in Arlington

At 2.8 million square feet, the facility is the largest of its kind in Washington. It can hold 40 million “units” of inventory.

A computer rendering of the North Creek Commerce Center industrial park in development at 18712 Bothell-Everett Highway. (Kidder Mathews)
Developer breaks ground on new Bothell industrial park

The North Creek Commerce Center on Bothell Everett Highway will provide warehouse and office space in three buildings.

Dan Bates / The Herald
Funko president, Brian Mariotti is excited about the growth that has led his company to need a 62,000 square foot facility in Lynnwood.
Photo Taken: 102312
Former Funko CEO resigns from the Everett company

Brian Mariotti resigned Sept. 1, six weeks after announcing he was taking a six-month sabbatical from the company.

Cash is used for a purchase at Molly Moon's Ice Cream in Edmonds, Washington on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Paper or plastic? Snohomish County may require businesses to take cash

County Council member Nate Nehring proposed an ordinance to ban cashless sales under $200. He hopes cities will follow suit.

A crowd begins to form before a large reception for the opening of Fisherman Jack’s at the Port of Everett on Wednesday, August 30, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Seafood with a view: Fisherman Jack’s opens at Port of Everett

“The port is booming!” The new restaurant is the first to open on “restaurant row” at the port’s Waterfront Place.

Tanner Mock begins unwrapping new furniture that has been delivered on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
In Everett, new look, new name for mainstay Behar’s Furniture

Conlin’s Furniture, based in South Dakota, bought the huge store and celebrates with a grand opening this week.