The space company’s CEO Elon Musk has stated that Starlink requires about 400 satellites to offer ‘minor’ coverage and a total of 800 to provide a ‘moderate’ coverage of North America. Starlink is intending to start providing the broadband service in the United States and Canada in 2020, followed by ‘near-global coverage of the populated world’ by 2021, after approximately 22 more launches. This latest set of satellites used attached thrusters to travel to their operational altitude of 550 kilometers (342 miles).
Successful Mission With an Unplanned Landing
Even though SpaceX’s fifth Starlink project on Monday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a Falcon 9 went according to plan, it failed to mark the 50th successful landing of a booster, more precisely, the first stage of the rocket. The booster was set to land on the space company’s drone ship landing platform, Of Course I Still Love You, in the Atlantic Ocean.
“We clearly did not make the landing this time,” said Lauren Lyons, SpaceX Starlink engineer in the webcast of the mission.
Video footage of the intended landing on the drone ship, set at approximately eight minutes after takeoff, shows how smoke billowed and flames erupted as the rocket made a soft landing in the sea next to the drone ship. SpaceX is optimistic that it touched down intact, the space company’s representatives said.
The Service Will Replace Poor Broadband Provision
SpaceX’s rocket landings back on Earth help immensely in decreasing the cost of space travel by reusing core gear on more than one mission. The space company managed to land its first Falcon 9 rocket back in 2016. The Falcon 9 rocket used in Monday’s mission had previously carried four other missions.
The space company has successfully launched two batches of 60 Starlink satellites back in January and plans to launch another set of 60 probes in March of this year from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX has not decided the price of its broadband service as of yet, but it is aiming consumers who, at the moment, pay $80 for poor Internet service.