We now know how many of SpaceX’s Starlink broadband data satellites can be crammed into the nose cone of a Falcon rocket. The answer is 60.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk showed how five dozen satellites fit, just barely, inside a Falcon fairing today in a tweet:
More details at GeekWire:
The Starlink project is due to go through a milestone Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as early as next week. The demonstration mission will mark another step toward the deployment of thousands of satellites designed to provide low-cost global internet access.
These first satellites are equipped with antennas and networking equipment to communicate with ground stations in a variety of locations, including three in Washington state. But as SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell reported at this week’s Satellite 2019 conference, they won’t demonstrate the satellite-to-satellite links that knit the constellation together. That will have to wait for future deployments.
For what it’s worth, 60 satellites won’t set a record for a single rocket launch, or even a single Falcon 9 launch. Last December’s SmallSat Express launch, organized by Seattle-based Spaceflight, put 64 satellites on a Falcon 9.
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60 x 7 Launches = 420 Starlinks, the minimum for a starter network.
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