The entire purpose for the recent SpaceX launches is to expand and connect a satellite based internet system for rural areas with little coverage. The system is built by sending “starlink” satellites through rocket launches often more than 50 satellites on one rocket. Once in space or about 550 kilometers, the part of the rocket containing the starlink satellites separates. Then the satellites use what SpaceX calls “space lasers” to travel 100s of megahertz of data per second. Although the internet system is only available for beta-testing right now, SpaceX hopes to open it to the public soon.
On September 3rd, SpaceX launched their rocket Falcon 9 at 8:46 am EST from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This launch was SpaceX’s 12th starlink mission and had 60 satellites onboard. This was the 16th SpaceX launch of 2020, and Falcon 9’s second launch.
The Falcon 9 rocket is powered by 9 “Merlin” engines. Only one of these Merlin vacuum engines or “mvacs” are at the head of the rocket. The engine in the head is only ignited when it is separated from the bulk of the rocket. The engines in the high power rocket are fueled by rocket grade kerosene and super liquid oxygen to oxidize it (if you watch the launch video this is what’s creating the big clouds of vapor). In total, the rocket needs 1 million pounds worth of fuel to launch!
With already 650 starlink satellites in space, SpaceX has a promising future contributing to creating a solid network. Seeing as their network already provides low latency speeds and download speeds lower than 100 megabytes per second, SpaceX has already come so far in such little time. We should definitely keep an eye out for when the SpaceX internet provider becomes public!