August 18th Starlink/SkySat rideshare. Falcon 9
10:30 AM est from SLC-40 at Canaveral Air Force Station atop a Falcon 9 rocket.
As promised, for the 10th launch of Starlink this article we will go over what exactly Starlink is, and the entirety of how these missions work. To start we will cover the ride share portion of this launch. The ride share program initiated by SpaceX is for smaller satellite companies to have a more affordable way to launch their satellites into orbit. By sharing a ride along with other companies, or smaller satellites, the companies can pay less than having to have their own rocket. For today's launch the company SkySat is sending up two commercial Earth observation satellites. Manufactured and operated by Planet Labs, they are base on the CubeSat design but a little larger, about the size of a mini-fridge. They are licensed to take hi-def images and videos of the Earth's surface, and provide analytic services as well.
As for what Starlink is, well Starlink is an Internet company Started by SpaceX with the goal of providing internet access across the globe. The total amount of satellites will be around 42,000. Working in combination with ground transceivers, they will be able to provide internet virtually anywhere in the world once fully operational. Beta testing has already began in a small part of North America, and the company's founder Elon Musk says a good portion of North America will have full service by the end of 2021. Each launch sends up a batch of around 60 satellites, depending on if there is a ride share or not. The last launch was the first with each individual satellite to have a sun visor which will make them nearly invisible to the naked eye. This move took place after much controversy from astronomers with how many satellites were visible, and would soon be visible blocking out the night sky.
Now just in case you are new to the game of rockets, lets go over the SpaceX Falcon 9.
The Falcon 9, named by Elon Musk is a combination of the 9 Merlin 1D engines and the Millennium Falcon. A fan of science fiction, Musk has named most of his things with names based off science fiction movies. It is a two stage, partially reusable rocket, with the capability to lift payloads up to 50,300 lbs into low Earth orbit. (LEO) with their 1.7 million pounds of thrust.
The first stage of the Falcon 9 is able to return to Earth, landing either on a drone ship out at sea in the Atlantic Ocean, or back on land at Cape Canaveral.