Journalist Chris Forrester has posted the following at the Advanced Television infosite… after a day’s delay, a SpaceX rocket placed the ninth batch of Starlink satellites into orbit at 5:21 a.m., Florida time, on June 13th.
The normal Starlink manifest is 60 satellites per launch; however, on this flight there was also a cargo of three ‘piggyback’ satellites for San Francisco-based Planet Labs and that firm’s SkySat Earth Observation (EO) satellites, and thus, the SpaceX’s portfolio was comprised 58 of their own craft.
A few minutes after launch, the Falcon 9 booster made a textbook landing onto the floating barge, ‘Of Course I Still Love You’. This was the third time that the booster had been recovered.
The launch means that SpaceX now has some 538 craft on orbit (and probably around 525-530 that are working as planned). Elon Musk says that his Starlink service will debut “later this summer,” first serving Alaska and the northern US and Canadian regions. He has said that he only needs about 400 satellites on orbit to provide a basic ‘beta’ service and that a fleet of 800 would provide “moderate” coverage for public subscribers/users.
The next Starlink launch is planned for June 24th. Potential users can now sign up (on the Starlink website) for hard news and service announcements.
Musk’s plan is to girdle the Earth with tens of thousands of broadband-friendly high-speed satellites. Musk says Starlink “will rapidly expand to near-global coverage of the populated world by 2021. Starlink will deliver high speed broadband Internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable.”
All that Musk now do is to develop global partners and customers to start paying for a service…
An additional post by Chris at the Advanced Television infosite reveals that would-be mega-constellation operator OneWeb, now in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, has a key date looming — June 26th is a deadline for final bids to be entered for either the whole business or parts of the company.
The bankruptcy is being handled by a court in New York and, according to Space Intel Report (SIR), the original two Chinese companies to have expressed an interest has now grown to four in number.
SIR says that the initial tire-kicking from the likes of SpaceX and Amazon has faded while a Eutelsat/French-backed bid has failed to win support from outside France. There is still interest from UK and US parties. UK regulator Ofcom, for example, is the licensing authority for OneWeb. The UK military is said to be interested.
The rules of the bankruptcy are that, unless successful bids are entered by June 26th, then OneWeb will have an auction of assets on July 2nd. The auction is obliged to take the “highest or best bid” for the assets which will be sold free and clear of encumbrances.
Interested bidders have to pay a 10 percent deposit of the value of their bid.