A SpaceX rocket has early Saturday successfully launched 52 Starlink internet satellites into orbit from California in an unprecedented move.
The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket took off from coastal Vandenberg Space Force Base at exactly 4:41 a.m., while arcing over the Pacific.
In the 11th launch and recovery of the stage, the rocket returned and landed on a SpaceX droneship in the ocean and according to launch commentator, Youmei Zhou, the second stage continued into orbit with satellites confirmed at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
Starlink, a satellite-based global internet system built by SpaceX to bring internet access to underserved areas of the world, consisting of over 1600 satellites in mid-2021, and is poised to eventually consist of many thousands of mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), which communicate with designated ground transceivers.
The Starlink satellites are equipped with krypton-fueled Hall thrusters, allowing them to de-orbit at the end of their life, with the satellites additionally designed to autonomously avoid collisions based on uplinked tracking data.
The expedition on Saturday was Starlink’s 34th launch, an approximately constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit.
The satellite internet constellation is also scheduled to launch a Turkish communications satellite from Florida at 10:58 p.m. EST Saturday.
Space X, founded by world’s wealthiest man and Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk in 2002, with the avowed mission of reducing space transportation costs to enable the colonization of Mars, is famed for manufacturing thr the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles, several rocket engines, Dragon cargo, crew spacecraft and Starlink communications satellites.
Space X is first in many areas: In 2010 became the first private company to successfully launch, orbit, and recover a spacecraft, in 2012 became the first private company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station, in 2015 with Falcon 9, became the first vertical take-off and vertical propulsive landing for an orbital rocket, in 2017 also with Falcon 9, had the first reuse of an orbital rocket.
Space X was also the first private company to send astronauts to orbit and to the International Space Station last year.
TechBooky had October this year reported that SpaceX’s valuation has passed $100 billion, with reports saying the space company had an agreement with both new and existing to sell stock from insiders up to $755 million at $560 per share.