Oct. 18th Lucky number 13
8:25 AM Est atop a Falcon 9 rocket from LC-39A at Kennedy Space Center
Keep your fingers crossed that the scrubs are finally over. Today's Starlink satellite launch was the thirteenth mission, or fourteenth total launch for SpaceX in deploying their Starlink Constellation of satellites. A banner day all around for the launch provider as the rocket launched on it's first attempt, and also the booster used, 1051 earned it's .6. Meaning it has now launched and landing successfully six separate times, and is only the second first stage booster in history to do so. Along with this miles stone GO MS. Tree, and GO MS. Chief caught both halves of the fairings used on today's launch.
The twins as they are called are Special boats used by SpaceX to catch the fairing halves as they return to Earth, before they splash into the Atlantic Ocean. Saltwater and electronics don't exactly mix so every step towards keeping them as dry as possible is a few million dollars saved by the company. The boats have four giant arms protruding from the deck and spread a giant net over the boat extending several meters outward on either side. A parachute slows the fairings down and technology, along with a little experience has aided the boats to know where to remain close by in order for them to make the catches. As it stands today, GO MS. Tree has caught seven fairing halves total, and the GO MS. Chief has caught two. Both fairings were previously flown as well on several missions. This was the first time SpaceX has caught both fairings on the same mission, and a major step all around in making spaceflight reusability more viable.
With Starlink already being accessed by emergency services across several of the northwestern states SpaceX is well underway into getting their internet service up and running. Later this week there is another scheduled launch which will add one hundred and twenty new satellites this week alone into orbit. Earlier in the week, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk was asked the question "Will Starlink service work on high speed transportation methods?" The answer of course "Yes, everything is a slow to a phased array antenna" He also said setting up the system is extremely easy, plug in, point skyward. The end goal is to offer reliable high speed internet at a low cost. Already with each launch down to about one million dollars they are well on the way.
"I think the biggest challenge will be with the user terminal and getting the user terminal cost to be affordable," he said in an interview with Aviation Week in May. " That will take us a few years to really sort that, and the user terminal cost is the fully considered cost, so the hardware and everything required to get it setup and running."
The end goal Musk stated is to make the user end terminals to run for decades, or at least more than five years as some will be going into areas that will make repair services more difficult.