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'Fly my pretties, fly': Elon Musk hails launch of 60 satellites

‘Fly my pretties, fly’: Elon Musk hails the launch of another 60 Starlink satellites from the Kennedy Space Center in the latest stage of his plan to provide global superfast Internet access

  • Video showed a Falcon 9 rocket taking off at 6.01am Sunday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida
  • The early morning launch – the 22nd for Musk – took place in fair conditions, with moderate cloud cover 
  • Starlink is expanding its broadband service from the US to parts of the UK, Germany and New Zealand 

Elon Musk has launched another 60 Starlink satellites into the Earth’s orbit as part of his plan to create a new global superfast Internet system. 

Video showed a Falcon 9 rocket taking off at 6.01am Sunday from the Kennedy Space Center, with the satellites located in its nose cone, prompting Musk to tweet, ‘Fly my pretties, fly.’ 

The early morning launch, which is the 22nd dedicated to sending Starlink satellites into the Earth’s lower orbit, took place in fair conditions, with moderate cloud cover. 

It comes after another 60 satellites left Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Thursday, as Starlink expands its broadband service from the US to parts of the United Kingdom, Germany and New Zealand.

A photo showing the Falcon 9 rocket taking off at 6.01am Sunday from the Kennedy Space Center, with the satellites located in its nose cone

The early morning launch, which is the 22nd dedicated to sending Starlink satellites into the Earth’s lower orbit, took place in fair conditions, with moderate cloud cover

It comes after another 60 satellites left Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Thursday, as Starlink expands its broadband service from the US to parts of the United Kingdom, Germany and New Zealand, ClickOrlando reported

Starlink kits can be pre-ordered for $499 and include a router, power supply, cables and a small satellite dish, nicknamed ‘dishy’ by some customers.  

The Starlink satellites are each about the size of a table, and can beam data across the globe at the speed of light. 

The project has already received positive feedback, with customers trying out the service in the UK reporting huge jumps in speed. 

A Starlink kit – consisting of a Starlink dish Wi-Fi router, power supply, cables and mounting tripod – comes through the post, but it’s ‘available to a limited number of users per coverage area’.

Starlink greeted Sunday’s launch with a tweet 

Early testers claim to have achieved download speeds of up to 215 megabits per second (Mbps), making common activities like streaming possible from multiple devices at the same time.

In contrast, some users say their traditional broadband would often lag between 0.5 and 1Mbps, only capable of basic tasks such as email.

Starlink doesn’t come cheap however – a Starlink user has to pay £439 for the hardware kit and an extra monthly cost of £89.

This compares with an average monthly UK broadband price of £27.39 from cable-based providers, according to comparison website Cable.     

The arc of the rocket as it takes off from Kennedy Space Center. Starlink kits can be pre-ordered for $499 and include a router, power supply, cables and a small satellite dish, nicknamed ‘dishy’ by some customers

The rocket heading into the night sky.  The goal of the project is to beam superfast internet into homes from space

Starlink is now delivering its initial beta service internationally, and will continue expansion to ‘near global coverage of the populated world’ in 2021.

Musk said on Tuesday that he expects Starlink’s speed to double to around 300Mbps and coverage for ‘most of Earth’ by the end of the year, followed by ‘all’ in 2022.

The firm aims to have deployed 1,440 of the 260 kg (570 pound) spacecraft to provide near-global service by late 2021 or 2022.

The last load of 60 satellites to be sent into space were launched only last week.

SpaceX has now launched 1,145 Starlink satellites in total, although about 60 have been decommissioned and deorbited.

During the current beta test, users can expect to see data speeds vary from 50Mb/s to 150Mb/s and latency from 20ms to 40ms in most locations over the coming months. 

Musk has previously said the venture could give three billion people who currently do not have access to the internet a cheap way of getting online

His company filed plans with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch 4,425 satellites into orbit above the Earth – three times as many that are currently in operation

Starlink already has ‘over 10,000 users’ worldwide for its beta service, according to Musk, who wants to have tens of thousands of his satellites in space eventually, enabling a seamless connection for all users.

SpaceX has also been approved by the US’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch more than 12,000 Starlink satellites in total.

There are some drawbacks for users, however – as well as the hefty cost, there are planned outages due to the limited number of satellites and the fact that Starlink is still in early testing.

The Starlink website reads: ‘There will also be brief periods of no connectivity at all.

‘As we launch more satellites, install more ground stations and improve our networking software, data speed, latency and uptime will improve dramatically.’

However, those who have suffered with sluggish internet say it is a price worth paying.   

How Musk’s SpaceX hopes to bring broadband internet to the world with its Starlink constellation of satellites 

Musk’s ‘Starlink’ satellites form a constellation of thousands of satellites, designed to provide low-cost broadband internet service from low Earth orbit

Elon Musk’s ‘Starlink’ satellites form a constellation of thousands of satellites, designed to provide low-cost broadband internet service from low Earth orbit.

The constellation, informally known as Starlink, are under development at SpaceX’s facilities in Redmond, Washington.

Its goal is to beam superfast internet into homes from space.

While satellite internet has been around for a while, it has suffered from high latency and unreliable connections.

Starlink is different. SpaceX says putting a ‘constellation’ of satellites in low earth orbit would provide high-speed, cable-like internet all over the world.

The billionaire’s company wants to create the global system to help it generate more cash.

Musk has previously said the venture could give three billion people who currently do not have access to the internet a cheap way of getting online.

It could also help fund a future city on Mars.

Helping humanity reach the red planet is one of Musk’s long-stated aims and was what inspired him to start SpaceX.

The company filed plans with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch 4,425 satellites into orbit above the Earth – three times as many that are currently in operation.

‘Once fully deployed, the SpaceX system will pass over virtually all parts of the Earth’s surface and therefore, in principle, have the ability to provide ubiquitous global service,’ the firm said.

‘Every point on the Earth’s surface will see, at all times, a SpaceX satellite.’

The network will provide internet access to the US and the rest of the world, it added.

It is expected to take more than five years and $9.8 billion (£7.1bn) of investment, although satellite internet has proved an expensive market in the past and analysts expect the final bill will be higher.

Musk compared the project to ‘rebuilding the internet in space’, as it would reduce reliance on the existing network of undersea fibre-optic cables which criss-cross the planet.

The FCC welcomed the scheme as a way to provide internet connections to more people.

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