On the beautiful morning of June 13, SpaceX sends yet another batch of their in-house satellites, Starlink. This mission was the company’s third launch in just two weeks and its 10th launch this year. However, this launch had multiple firsts for SpaceX. First of all, yesterday’s launch did not perform a static fire beforehand. The purpose of a static fire is to run the propellant through the engines as a wet test to confirm the rocket is performing nominally before launch. The Falcon 9 is the United States is the most flown and active rocket currently, therefore if SpaceX is confident in the vehicle, they may slowly phase out static fires in future missions. This would speed up the turnaround time of a Falcon 9 and beat the current record of 62 days.
Starlink satellites with Planet Skysats
Furthermore, the Starlink satellites from yesterday’s launch had a friend. Three of Planetlabs’ Planet Skysats were launched into orbit apart of SpaceX’s Smallsat Rideshare Program. The program is meant to provide launches for smallsat manufacturers as low as “$1 million,” and yesterday was SpaceX’s first demonstration of this capability.
Looks like a thin, flat, round UFO on a stick. Starlink Terminal has motors to self-adjust optimal angle to view sky. Instructions are simply:
– Plug in socket
– Point at sky
These instructions work in either order. No training required.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 7, 2020
Earlier this year, Elon Musk revealed that the Starlink internet router would look like a “UFO on a stick,” but no further information or images have been released. Musk has frequently emphasized that the router will be a simple, two-step installation.
Looking up to the skies with open eyes!
Went to HQ and set up a Starlink terminal that connected to the satellites orbiting overhead. Simplest out-of-box experience imaginable.
Can’t wait to upgrade my broadband later this year! pic.twitter.com/6tsk1JwzzU
— Steve Jurvetson (@FutureJurvetson) June 12, 2020
Starlink has begun private beta testing in the SpaceX facilities, and public beta testing is expected to start later this summer. And just recently, the public can enroll in such trials on Starlink.com and be notified when service is available in the customer’s location.
SpaceX is certainly not slowing down with their Starlink launches, with yesterday’s mission being the seventh Starlink launch this year. The next Starlink launch is scheduled for June 22, at 3:20 pm PST or 6:20 pm EST.