SpaceX's Falcon 9 launches 64 satellites into space
by Brooks Hays
Washington (UPI) Dec 2, 2018
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launched 64 satellites into space on Monday. The reusable rocket blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 1:32 pm. Falcon 9 and its crowded payload were supposed to take flight on Nov. 19, but SpaceX delayed the SmallSat Express mission to conduct additional tests. Bad weather and other issues caused subsequent delays, including Sunday's launch scrub.
The flight was third for this particular Falcon 9 rocket. No SpaceX rocket has yet flown more than two missions. "Following stage separation, SpaceX landed Falcon 9's first stage on the 'Just Read the Instructions' drone ship, which was stationed in the Pacific Ocean," SpaceX announced on its website.
Now, SpaceX and its workhorse vehicle has now set record for most satellites launched by a single American rocket. The 64 miniature satellites belong to companies, governments and research institutions in 17 different countries.
As Bloomberg reported, three of the toaster-sized satellites belong to HawkEye 360, a startup company looking to sell their satellite system's ability to hone in on hard-to-track radio frequencies to defense and intelligence clients, including government agencies like Homeland Security or Coast Guard.
Pirates and smugglers regularly turn off GPS devices to avoid detection. Instead, they rely on satellite phones and CB radios to communicate and coordinate their illegal activities. HawkEye 360 thinks its satellites will be able to triangulate those frequencies and help their clients track down said pirates.
Nearly all of the satellites on SpaceX's payload aim to prove that a combination of smaller, simpler and cheaper satellites can perform the same complex functions as much larger, more expensive satellites.
Some of those smaller satellites aim to build an internet network capable of supporting smart devices back on Earth's surface.
"Eight of the satellites on board a Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base will be from companies hoping to build a truly global Internet of Things by revolutionizing satellite communications," Wired reported.
While most smart devices use WiFi to connect to internet networks on the ground, many potentially trackable items exist and move across regions without internet access. These new satellite networks could help companies track agricultural shipments or support pipeline monitoring efforts.
If these proof-of-concept missions are successful, SpaceX -- which has mostly relied on contracts with NASA -- will be poised to capture a whole new market.
"Most of the start-ups are planning to eventually have constellations of between 60 and 100 satellites," Wired reported.
SpaceX to carry more than 20 new experiments to ISS
Washington (UPI) Nov 28, 2018
The newest space station resupply mission, SpaceX CRS-16, features a diversity of science experiments organized by the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory. SpaceX's Dragon capsule is scheduled to be carried into space by the company's Falcon 9 rocket on Dec. 4. The rocket and payload will launch from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. "[CRS-16] is absolutely packed with research," Patrick O'Neill, spokesperson for the ISS National Lab ... read more
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