SpaceX Prepares Sixth Launch of Starlink Internet Satellites

SpaceX is moving forward with a launch on Saturday carrying a set of the company’s own Starlink Internet satellites to orbit. The satellites are designed to deliver high-speed broadband to remote corners of the globe.

by Chabeli Carrazana, Orlando Sentinel / March 13, 2020
Shutterstock/Oleg_Yakovlev

(TNS) — Coronavirus is canceling most things on Earth except rocket launches (for now, anyway).

SpaceX is moving forward with a launch on Saturday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s launch complex 39A carrying a set of the company’s own Starlink internet satellites to orbit. The satellites are designed to deliver high-speed broadband internet to even the most remote corners of the globe.

Saturday’s launch, scheduled for 9:42 a.m., will be the sixth for Starlink and will carry 60 of the 570-pound satellites. That’ll take SpaceX’s total to about 360. The weather is 90% favorable for the launch, according to the Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron.

The company started launching Starlink satellites in May 2019 and has rapidly increased its cadence of launches this year — Saturday’s will be the third in three months — with the goal of having as many as 1,500 spacecraft in orbit by the end of 2020. With that amount, SpaceX thinks it’ll be able to offer coverage to North America and Canada.

But the launches haven’t come without controversy. The astronomical community has raised concerns about the brightness of the train of Starlinks in the night sky and their potential impact on data collection. To address those worries, SpaceX launched a satellite with a darkened coating earlier this year aimed at dimming the brightness. Data on the effectiveness of the coating is still pending.

At the 2020 Satellite Conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said he’s not worried about the satellites’ impact on science.

“I am confident that we will not cause any effect whatsoever in astronomical discoveries — zero,” Musk said. “That’s my prediction. We’ll take corrective action if it’s above zero.”

©2020 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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