Falcon 9 lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station yesterday, on what is the eighth Starlink mission.
Following stage separation, SpaceX landed Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Just Read the Instructions” droneship, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean, said the company.
Significantly, on this mission, SpaceX launched the first Starlink satellite with a deployable visor to block sunlight from hitting the brightest spots of the spacecraft.
The idea is to mitigate satellite reflectivity as the proliferation of satellites in space has lead to complaints from astronomers about a serious threat to their studies from light pollution.
You can read SpaceX’s reply here.
[Making the satellites generally invisible to the naked eye within a week of launch.] We’re doing this by changing the way the satellites fly to their operational altitude, so that they fly with the satellite knife-edge to the Sun. We are working on implementing this as soon as possible for all satellites since it is a software change.
[Minimizing Starlink’s impact on astronomy by darkening satellites so they do not saturate observatory detectors.] We’re accomplishing this by adding a deployable visor to the satellite to block sunlight from hitting the brightest parts of the spacecraft. The first unit is flying on the next launch, and by flight 9 in June all future Starlink satellites will have sun visors. Additionally, information about our satellites’ orbits are located on space-track.org to facilitate observation scheduling for astronomers. We are interested in feedback on ways to improve the utility and timeliness of this information.
Satellite internet service
SpaceX has permission from regulators to launch up to 12,000 satellites and has been planning to send up 42 batches of 60 satellites in a year, to add to its commercial constellation.
The goal is to build a high-speed global satellite internet service, for which Elon Musk’s company is in competition with the likes of Amazon and OneWeb. With download speeds of up to 50 megabits per second the aim is to support gaming-level Internet access.
Successful deployment of 60 Starlink satellites confirmed pic.twitter.com/adsQIKfT0F
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) June 4, 2020
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