SpaceX launched 60 small Starlink satellites from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida Thursday night, May 23, the first of thousands that founder Elon Musk plans to put in orbit to allow for global internet coverage.
The reusable first-stage booster called the Falcon rocket, landed successfully on an ocean platform following liftoff as the tightly packed cluster of satellites continued upward.
SpaceX’s Starlink is a next generation satellite network that is capable of connecting the entire planet to the internet including reaching those who are not yet connected, providing them with reliable and affordable broadband internet services.
Each satellite weighs 500 pounds and is equipped with a single solar panel and a krypton-powered thruster for raising and maintaining altitude.
The satellites have the capability to automatically dodge sizable pieces of space junk.
Twenty-four launches will serve most of the populated world and 30 launches the entire world. That will be 1,800 satellites in total, with more planned after that.
Other companies have similar plans, including Project Kuiper from Jeff Bezos’s Amazon and OneWeb.
The launch was delayed twice last week, first by high winds and then for software updates. It was the third flight for this booster.
It remains to be seen how repressive international regimes such as the Iranian Islamic theocracy and the Chinese communist regime will respond to the potential for their citizens to surf the web freely.
Iranians are blocked from being able to visit many Internet sites around the world under the repressive Iranian regime and the Internet blockage in China under the communist regime is even more severe.
The presence of the satellites from multiple companies that can potentially provide unrestricted access to the global Internet will allow people living under these repressive regimes to access information that they have been prohibited from seeing due to political and ideological restrictions by their respective regimes. Free access to information will certainly be seen as a threat by these authoritarian rulers.