Elon Musk shows off SpaceX's Starlink internet satellites before launch

An illustration of SpaceX's constellation of Starlink satellites

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk shared an image of a stack of 60 Starlink satellites packed into a Falcon 9 fairing on Twitter yesterday.

Musk anticipates that "much will likely go wrong" during the first few missions.

Deployment of thousands of satellites created to provide worldwide low-priced internet access will take a level up with the help of the demonstration mission. On Twitter, Musk noted that the satellites are flat-packed inside the nosecone, or payload fairing, and there is no dispenser for deploying them into orbit. The CEO also warned that there might be an issue since this is the first proper Starlink mission following an early 2018 launch that sent two demo satellites skywards.

Musk is betting that his SpaceX Starlink constellation of around 12,000 satellites will be able to deliver high-speed internet to people at an affordable price. SpaceX plans - and has received Federal Trade Commission approval - to send nearly 12,000 satellites into low orbit where they'll split into three orbital shell-encased clusters arrayed around Earth.

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The duo seemed to perform well, according to Musk and SpaceX investors, though the company did end up keeping the satellites in a lower orbit than originally planned.

Now the company is preparing to launch the Starlink project in earnest. The event will be followed by six more launches each with 60 satellites which will be required for "minor" internet coverage, and 12 more launches for "moderate" coverage.

Elon Musk's Starlink Satellite Project reportedly won't demonstrate the satellite-to-satellite links that bind the constellation together, confirmed Gwynne Shotwell, Space X President, While reporting at the Satellite 2019 Conference held last week. He also promised to roll out more details on the day of the launch. Musk hopes to launch a total of 12,000 satellites. This first launch is really just a small part of a long process, and that's provided everything goes according to plan.

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