SpaceX launches 60 new satellites into space to join Starlink network

SpaceX launched 60 new satellites to join its floating Starlink constellation on January 29, 2020.

An illustration of what the Starlink will look like. (Image: Mark Handley/University College London)

On Wednesday, a SpaceX, Falcon 9 rocket journeyed into orbit, delivering 60 new satellites into the Starlink constellation. The Falcon 9 ascended from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida at approximately, 9:06 AM. This is SpaceX’s fourth set of 60, Starlink Satellites launched. The additional satellites join an approximate 180 machines already in orbit for a total of 240.

Starlink uses smaller, cheaper machines compared to other internet providers. However, each Starlink satellite is high-performance aimed at beaming data straight to transceivers on the ground, according to SpaceX. In the future, the company hopes to blanket the planet with a 12,000-strong constellation, with plans for 30,000 more pending regulatory approval.

Falcon 9 rocket leaving Florida on January 29. (Image: SpaceX)

Internet access is essential in today’s modern world. Yet, so many have little to no access to high-speed, stable internet. Elon Musk and the SpaceX team hope to alleviate this problem with the Starlink Mission project.

The Starlink Mission is Elon Musk’s vision of a world where no one has to suffer from no internet access or even worse, slow, unreliable internet. The Starlink Mission was designed to provide low-cost, fast, low-latency internet around the globe. These relatively minuscule satellites (in comparison to existing constellations) will form a network, providing internet access to those in remote areas where connections are slow, expensive or non-existent.

An illustration of a Starlink Satellite. (Image: SpaceX)

One advantage to the Starlink system is its low-orbiting satellite network. Traditional internet-beaming satellites orbit at approximately 22,000 miles above earth (according to Space.com). Higher altitudes cause more latency resulting in slower internet speeds. Currently, Starlink satellites orbit at only 550 kilometres above ground. Being closer means Starlink can deliver faster internet speeds.

The Starlink network could be a game-changer for those previously without reliable internet connections. Developing countries, medical teams assisting in areas of need as well as families in obscure locations may find Elon Musk’s Starlink internet more appealing than current, more expensive offerings.