SpaceX finished its second launch of 60 Starlink satellites on November 11, making its system the most important commercial telecommunications satellites in orbit.
SpaceX sent the satellites on a Falcon 9 rocket at 9:56 a.m. from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The spacecraft separated one hour later into a 280-kilometer low Earth orbit.
SpaceX now has some 120 broadband satellites in low Earth orbit, surpassing the 75-satellite Iridium Next constellation as the most significant telecommunications setup in space. SpaceX predicts it needs at least six Starlink launches, presumably of 60 satellites each, to have enough number to start offering internet access at high ranges, such as Canada and the Northern United States. After 24 launches, SpaceX missions reaching global coverage — a milestone expected next year.
SpaceX included several upgrades to its second set of Starlink satellites. Lauren Lyons, an engineer on SpaceX’s Starlink group, mentioned during the launch webcast that the satellites have 400% more throughput, can generate twice as many phased array broadband beams, and feature a new Ka-band antenna system.
SpaceX mentioned one of the new 60 satellites might not complete orbit raising after separating from the rocket, in which case that one satellite will deplete in the Earth’s atmosphere. The company says Starlink parts are “100% demisable,” which means none ought to reach Earth’s surface.
Of the 60 Starlink satellites, SpaceX launched in May, three lost contact and two have been selected for intentional de-orbiting. SpaceX officers have noticed the company’s early satellites may fail, however, they have sought to compensate for that by launching them to low orbits where atmospheric friction will sweep up malfunctioning spacecraft in 25 years or less.