SpaceX experienced yet another successful launch, sending the Paz radar satellite and two Starlink test satellites into orbit. The satellites were launched with a two-stage Falcon 9 at about 6:00 am local time from an Air Force base in California. With this launch, SpaceX also tried to recover the nose cone payload fairing, using a drone boat called Mr. Steven. Unfortunately, there were not able to recover this particular fairing.
While the test satellites are an exciting part of this launch, the main purpose was to send the Paz satellite into orbit on behalf of the Spanish service Hisdesat. Paz is a radar imaging satellite, meant to observe the Earth from 319 miles, capturing images and data for the Spanish government and a few private customers. The mission is scheduled to last for five and a half years.
SpaceX’s test Starlink test satellite were the secondary payload. The company hopes to use them to gather information needed to further develop the rest of the satellite constellation, eventually providing low-cost internet service to everyone on Earth. There are plans to launch thousands of satellites to form this internet constellation. SpaceX hopes to start providing these services in 2020. Their aim is to help people in smaller areas around the world access high-speed internet.
Musk plans to use any proceeds from Starlink’s services to help further his mission to develop a human colony on mars. SpaceX is currently working on a massive rocket, dubbed BFR, to aid with this overarching goal. The company hopes to establish a massive human-occupied city on Mars within the next 50 to 100 years.
While the success of this launch is encouraging, scientists have warned that there is still a lot of work yet to be done to design, develop, and test satellites capable of delivering the type of services they want in low-orbit.