SpaceX's Latest Launch Could Be a Big Deal

Elon Musk's company sends 60 satellites into orbit, and lots more will follow
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2019 8:43 AM CDT
We Just Got 60 New Satellites. Lots More Are Coming
Time-exposure image of Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket with a payload of 60 satellites lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Thursday, May 23, 2019.   (Malcolm Denemark/Florida Today via AP)

SpaceX launched its heaviest load yet into space Thursday night—60 separate satellites weighing 500 pounds apiece, reports CNN. And if everything goes according to plan, Elon Musk's company will launch hundreds and perhaps thousands more such satellites, all part of an ambitious system called Starlink designed to beam high-speed internet around the world. It will take a while to get there—SpaceX says "minor" coverage from this orbiting constellation won't be possible until 400 satellites are in space, and "moderate" coverage will require about 800, per But SpaceX plans to go much further than that—in fact, it has permission from the FCC to launch a total of 12,000. Thursday's launch puts SpaceX ahead of a handful of competitors including OneWeb and Blue Origin, which was founded by Amazon's Jeff Bezos.

The SpaceX satellites will orbit between 210 and 710 miles above Earth and are powered by solar arrays, reports the New York Times. As for the problem of space junk: Each satellite is supposed to be able to navigate around existing orbital debris to avoid collisions. As for what happens when a satellite dies, the company says all but about 25 pounds of it will burn up on re-entry as it falls back to Earth. In future versions, the company says all of the satellite will burn up. Still, this is seen as one of the biggest dangers as SpaceX and eventually its rivals dramatically increase the number of satellites in orbit, notes Forbes. If all goes well, even places such as Antarctica would have access to high-speed internet. Musk plans to use revenue generated by the Starlink system to fund his plan for a journey to Mars. (Read more SpaceX stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.