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SpaceX postpones Starlink's launch to update the satellite software – Spaceflight Now



The Falcon 9 rocket stands vertically at the 40th Cayman Canal Air Force site 40 during the scrambling Wednesday night. Credit: SpaceX

For the second time in a row, SpaceX announced an attempt to launch Falcon 9 in Cape Canaveral on Thursday evening, this time to complete the software update of the first 60 satellites for the Starlink network of the company to provide high-speed orbital internet.

SpaceX canceled the release attempt on Thursday night, which was set at 22:30. EDT (02:30 GMT on Friday), about three hours before the opening window opens.

In a twinkle, the company said it was "standing down to update the satellite software and check everything again".

The pack, waiting to launch the Falcon 9 rocket, consists of 60 flat panel satellites to begin building the SpaceX Starlink Network, a fleet that can count thousands of small spaceships over the coming years, providing broadband for consumers around the world .

SpaceX has not set a new launch date for the mission, the first launching Falcon 9 dedicated to the Starlink project.

"I always want to do everything we can to do on Earth to increase the success of the mission, the next chance to launch in about a week," says SpaceX.

SpaceX removed the previous backline on Wednesday night due to the off-boundary winds at the top levels.

The 60 satellites aboard the Falcon 9 were built at a new SpaceX factory in Redmond, Washington. The spacecraft is equipped with powerful phased array antennas for internet broadcasting and cryptonic ion engines for propulsion.

The Falcon 9 rocket will release the satellites, each weighing about 200 kilograms, in orbit an hour after taking off Cape Canaveral.

The 60 satellites will separate from the Falcon 9 stage in a unique way, according to Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX.

"This will be a slightly different understanding than people are used to," Musk told reporters on Wednesday in a conference call. "This will be a very slow deployment where we will turn the scene and each of the satellites will have a slightly different momentum of rotation.

"So there are actually no satellite or satellite mechanisms to deploy a satellite," he said. Satellites will be deployed, almost like spreading a deck of cards to a table. This would be strange compared to the normal deployment of satellites. "

Loaders with multiple payloads launched over rockets usually release satellites in pairs or one with a physical separation mechanism such as a spring or pyrotechnic bolts.

SpaceX's Web site will show deployment by viewing a camera mounted on the top of the rocket.

"In fact, there may be little contact between the satellites, but it's very, very slow and the satellites are designed to process it," Musk said. "But we wanted to avoid the existence of 60 different satellite deployment mechanisms. We expect them to join soon after deployment. They will begin to warm up the ion drive and undergo many health checks. "

Starlink's 60 satellites are based on a new design created by SpaceX engineers. They are lighter and use a different splitting scheme compared to two Starlink prototypes that SpaceX launched last year.

"We need to know if they are in good shape probably around two or three hours after their deployment, so three or four hours after the launch," he said.

The launch of Falcon 9 will aim to release the Starlink satellites about 273 miles (440 km) above Earth, and its own spacecraft engines will raise their orbits to 550 km to launch technological demonstration trials.

SpaceX will launch 60 satellites to launch the deployment of the company's Starlink broadband network, which ultimately aims to broadcast Internet signals to consumers around the world. Credit: SpaceX

"This is one of the toughest engineering projects I've ever seen and is well done," Musk said. "There are many new technologies here and some of these satellites may not work and, in fact, a small possibility that all satellites will not work.

"We do not want to count anything until they hatch, but I think this is a great design and we've done our best to increase our chances of success," he said.

Previous initiatives to create a large, low-Earth communications satellite system, a few hundred kilometers above Earth, have encountered technical and financial backwinds. Traditional communications satellites fly in higher geostationary orbits more than 22,000 miles (almost 36,000 kilometers) above the equator, as a spacecraft covers a wide geographic region.

In the lower orbit, Starlink's satellites will jump from the user to the user through a complex network of radio links via ground stations and possibly through inter-satellite laser crosslinks.

"The purpose of the Starlink system is to provide high throughput and low latency, ideally worldwide, provided we receive regulatory approval, and this will provide a connection with people who today have no connectivity or where it is extremely expensive and unreliable and providing opportunities for people who can now have connectivity in the developed regions of the world, but it is very expensive, "Musk said. "This will provide them with a competitive opportunity."

Starlink is one of several companies operating on constellations of small broadband satellites in low orbit on Earth. In February, OneWeb launched its first six satellites, planning to send hundreds more in orbit over the next two years, and Amazon says it plans to build a network of thousands of Internet service satellites.

"There is a lot of fundamental goodness for Starling," he said. – We just want to make sure there are the right warnings. There are many technologies, it is very difficult and frankly speaking in the past, the success of the constellations for communications with low Earth orbit, I believe that no one has managed to enter into operation without going bankrupt.

SpaceX received regulatory approval from the Federal Communications Commission for nearly 12,000 Starlink satellites broadcasting Ku-band, Ka-band and V-band frequencies, with groups of spacecraft located at different low Earth orbit heights. But the early focus is on launching hundreds of satellites to create a network that covers most of the world's population.

"It is important to distinguish between the initial operational capability, which is around the 400-satellite level, then significant operational capability is about 800 satellite level, then it is about adding more and more satellites and more orbital planes of the satellites as we get, more use of the system and bandwidth limitation, "Musk said." There is no need to have around 10,000 satellites to be effective … We will start selling the service around the 400th launch of satellite and so on e making sure that the production and launch of satellites remains to consumer demand. "

After Starlink's first launch, SpaceX plans to build two or six additional Starling missions later this year to build the first phase of the network in orbit 341 miles above Earth, according to Gwyn Sotwell, President and Chief Operating Officer at SpaceX.

"The next batch of satellites will really be a demonstration for us to see the deployment plan and start pulling our network together," said Quelle on an industrial conference last week.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1,


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