Satellites are part of Musk’s Starlink project to connect the world.
Elon Musk’s privately held space program SpaceX made worldwide headlines only a short time ago for the launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket. Apart from the incredible innovation behind redirecting its boosters to individual launch pads and a near-miss on retrieving its center core, the rocket delivered an interesting payload: Musk’s own Tesla Roadster, complete with Starman in the driver’s seat.
More recently, SpaceX completed another highly innovative launch. On February 21st, the latest Falcon Heavy launch sent several satellites into orbit, one commissioned for launch by Spain and two others owned by SpaceX itself. The two communications satellites will be part of Musk’s initiative to bring internet connectability to parts of the world that are underserved with internet access.
Global The two Microsats, as these smaller, low-orbit satellites are called, will eventually be joined by thousands of others in order to create global high speed internet. It’s interesting that SpaceX has reached the point where a $10 billion Starlink project–the satellites, as they’re referred to–is intended to provide revenue in the form of internet service, knowing that the investment in this new revenue stream is intended to fund the higher goal of missions to Mars.
Reusable nose cones
But these Microsats weren’t the only new feature of this latest Falcon Heavy launch. SpaceX designers created a free-floating barge equipped with a net to retrieve the rocket’s nose cone in an effort to recycle and reuse even more components from each rocket. While this nose cone did end up missing the net and landing in the ocean, it missed by only a few hundred meters and appears to have survived re-entry in adequate condition for reuse.
Save waste and time
One of SpaceX’s major innovations across the board has been the high turnaround rate at which it can launch a payload, gather up the reusable components, overhaul them, and then launch them again very quickly. The company’s goal is to reduce not only the waste of money and materials, but also the time between launches.