SpaceX launches fifth batch of Starlink satellites, misses booster landing
19 February, 2020, 10:20
This first stage previously launched two supply missions for the International Space Station in May and July of 2019, and the JCSAT-18/Kacific1 mission in December of 2019.
The SpaceXFalcon 9 rocket launched this evening carried 60 new cubes of satellites into orbit.
Each of Starlink's large dinner table-size satellites weighs over 500 pounds - the largest single satellite constellation in orbit.
SpaceX's recovery vessels are already positioned down-range in the Atlantic Ocean ready for the rocket to land after launch, and - if successful - will be the 50th recovery of a rocket in what is now a fairly routine operation. But this time the rocket failed the mark by a pinch. "It did make a soft landing in the water.so it does look like it may be in one piece", SpaceX engineer Jessie Anderson said.
SpaceX reported during the webcast that the rocket appears to be intact and floating in the ocean, but it is unclear if it can be recovered. The latest launch brings up the total number of satellites to 300. It seems that we will see a lot of Starlink launches in our lifetimes.
Each Starlink satellite weights approximately 260 kg and features a compact, flat-panel design that minimizes volume, allowing for a dense launch stack to take full advantage of Falcon 9's launch capabilities, according to SpaceX. However, it is not to say that the company had a flawless record. They are likely to be more visible from the ground in the coming days as they begin to rise to their operational altitude.
"With the huge amount of about 50,000 new artificial satellites for telecommunications planned to be launched in medium and low-Earth orbit, the mean density of artificial objects will be of 1 satellite for square sky degree; this will inevitably harm professional astronomical images", they continued. Musk has long maintained that SpaceX itself is unlikely to go public until it is regularly ferrying people to Mars. SpaceX launched a "DarkSat" with a dark coating as part of the Starlink launch earlier this year, but the effectiveness of the coating is unclear.
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It's pretty simple: Don't do it. "I think the punishing, I think everything has been handled the wrong way", Markakis said. This is going to be a theme for the entire 2020 season, especially when the team hits the road for 81 games.
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