Watch Falcon 9 Blast Off From Vandenberg

Elysium Space

The launch of the Falcon 9 rocket was originally set for last Saturday, but it was delayed until Sunday, then to Wednesday - with Wednesday's postponement attributed to weather.

The primary mission for today's scheduled launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is putting a Spanish radar imaging satellite in low Earth orbit - but it's the secondary missions that are really interesting. Currently, a typical Falcon 9 launch costs around 62 million US dollars.

The company launched two experimental satellites today (Feb. 22) created to help lay the foundation for Starlink, a network that, if all goes according to plan, will consist of thousands of spacecraft providing broadband internet service to people around the world. The rest will complete coverage around the world.

In addition to competing with typical internet providers, Starlink could deliver connectivity to rural communities without the lag they're accustomed to. As Gizmodo's George Dvorsky reports, 34.5 million Americans did not have access to both fixed and mobile broadband in 2014.

Still, there's a lot that satellite broadband companies need to figure out.

That's almost 12,000 satellites - more than twice the number of all satellites launched in history. An estimated 100,000 spectators crowded the area's beaches and roadways to watch the rocket launch. After launching from Space Launch Complex 4 East the rocket will carry the payload up to space and deploy it about 11 minutes after launch, according to SpaceX.

The two satellites may test aspects of Starlink, a project to bathe Earth in high-speed internet access using almost 12,000 spacecraft. The other two satellites are the first broadband satellites SpaceX has developed for Project Starlink. Musk has said that the BFR will likely replace the Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9 rockets during the 2020s.

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The Falcon's first stage was used to launch a satellite for Taiwan last August and was recovered by landing it on a drone ship in the Pacific.

SpaceX, however, was attempting to recover the fairing - the aerodynamic covering that protects the satellite during the early phase of launch and is usually discarded after reaching altitudes where the atmosphere's density is low.

The value of these fairings is about six million US dollars, and recovering and reusing them would save money for SpaceX. The second will launch Space Test Program 2 into orbit for the U.S. Air Force, along with a solar-sail mission for The Planetary Society. A human-rated version of Dragon - called the Crew Dragon - is also under development, and the first test flight for that spacecraft is anticipated to occur in late 2018.

So this launch, the company rolled out their plan to do just that.

"Due to mission requirements, now targeting February 21 launch of PAZ".

Not at all. The first satellite built for two-way broadband communications-e-BIRD, built by Boeing (ba) for the French-headquartered Eutelsat-went up some 15 years ago.


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