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SpaceX will expand on its famous telecommunications ambitions on Monday with the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaver but Cape Canaver the company will also quietly cross a significant threshold and become the second largest satellite operator in the world – at the top of its already dominant position as a launch supplier.

At 9:55 a.m., a lift from launch complex 40 will take 60 more than Starlink low-Earth satellites as part of a program designed to broadcast internet connectivity to the earth, pushing the total constellation to 120 after its first launch in May . This will put it above the heavy weights of NASA, the Air Force and Iridium when it comes to the sheer number of spacecraft in orbit.

SpaceX plans to orbit thousands of its Starlink spacecraft – possibly up to 40,000 and more – then continually refresh the constellation, as some are lost in orbital decay. Despite the challenges and high costs of implementing a system of this magnitude, CEO Elon Musk sees this as a way to pay for the future initiatives of his deep space company, such as Starship and the Super Heavy Booster. He also hopes this will increase internet connectivity to undetected regions of the world.

Launch of the Summit on Monday

Transmission of SpaceX Starlink satellite into low Earth orbit. (Photo: SpaceX)

There are major differences between Starlink spacecraft and vehicles operated by more established operators. For example, national security satellites can weigh more than 12,000 pounds when refueling, operating thousands of miles above Earth and needing complex terrestrial systems. Meanwhile, Starlink satellites weigh only 500 pounds and operate at several hundred miles

According to the Colorado-based Nonprofit Space Foundation which advocates for space industries around the world, the launch will propel SpaceX to position # 2 in view orbit point:

  • Planet: 197 satellites for Earth observation
  • SpaceX: 120 satellites for Internet rays (117 after contact was lost by three in May; expected deorbit and burn)
  • Iridium: 106 communication satellite
  • Air Force: A mix of 98 classifieds, a communist tions, Earth Observation, Position and Navigation, and Technological Satellites for Development
  • Spire: 85 Earth Observation Satellites
  • NASA: 67 Science, Earth Science, Technology and Communication Satellites (Includes International Space Station)

With just two more Starlink launches scheduled to happen by next year, SpaceX will eclipse the planet to become the No. 1 volume operator.

"They set a very aggressive plan and stick to it," said Rich Cooper, vice president of strategic communication and information at the Space Foundation. "Monday's launch will accelerate their achievement on this timeline."

One of the main advantages of SpaceX at Starlink, however, is that it does design and build satellites. The company also controls the orbit through its family of reusable Falcon 9 rockets.

"Look, it's competition," Cooper said. "Diversifying your portfolio makes you a stronger, more resilient company. When you can provide the full range of services that SpaceX demonstrates that they can do – as a startup provider, integrator and (satellite) operator – it sets you apart from much of your competition. "

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SpaceX launches 60 Starlink communications satellites on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral on Thursday, May 23, 2019.
Florida Today

But it's not just pure numbers – the expansion and overall message of the Starlink constellation has a major impact on the space flight, communications and satellite industry. As one of the few companies authorized by the Federal Communications Commission to operate in space, SpaceX is also pushing the boundaries of regulation.

"Startups themselves have less impact on the market than what they do and what they signal they want to do," said James Dunstan, founder of Mobius Legal Group, a law firm for the space and telecommunications company. "And that makes everyone in real trouble."

Several factors contribute to this state of nervous excitement, ranging from FCC approval allowing Starlink to take a lower altitude to the company's latest plan, which doubles the size of the originally planned 11,000 to more than 40,000 satellites. The biggest worry, Dunstan said, is that some of the satellites will become orbital debris.

"The interesting thing is that now the FCC will be the real orbital battlefield," Dunstan said, noting that the agency, while competent, has no attempt to seriously handle debris decisions. "Major, long-lasting political decisions will come from an agency that is not actually equipped or trained to make them."

To date, SpaceX has stated that low altitudes are actually an advantage for Starlink, allowing older

Pay for future endeavors

Sixty SpaceX StarX spacecraft were seen in the nose cone of a Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Station. The company hopes to deploy thousands to provide internet connectivity to space from space. (Photo: SpaceX)

Capturing just 5% of the trillion dollars worldwide, the telecommunications industry, says Musk, would provide SpaceX with $ 50 billion annually. That's more than $ 4.6 billion available in launch services, according to a report from the Satellite Industry Association for 2018

"We see this as a way for SpaceX to generate revenue that can be used to developing more and more advanced missiles. Musk said before the first flight in May. "We believe this is a key step towards the creation of a self-sustaining city of Mars and a moon base."

Experts also believe the experience gained from deployment to Starlink, it can be transmitted to those farther away, too. If it works on a plan, such constellations can be orbited around the moon and Mars, connecting the inhabitants of the deep space with each other – and Earth. 19659009] Milestones for SpaceX

Side Load, Monday Launch two major milestones for SpaceX will begin to mark

First, the company will fly with a fully-used fairing or a nose cone that protects spacecraft during launch. Musk has long sought to save costs launch using reusable hardware that could cost millions of dollars when it simply crashed into the ocean after takeoff, but during the Falcon Heavy mission in April, however, two recovered halves were recovered and will fly Starlink. Because this is an internal mission, this helps SpaceX reduce costs.

Second, the first phase of the Falcon 9 flying on Monday will mark the fourth flight of the SpaceX amplifier. To date, no Falcon booster has completed more than three missions before retiring, but this one will help the company focus on its goal of using them 10 times or more.

Eight minutes after the ascent, the 156-foot-tall first stage will be directed to an unmanned aerial vehicle landing in the Atlantic. If it survives and is fit for use, it may one day fly for the fifth time.

Contact Emre Kelly at aekelly@floridatoday.com or 321-242-3715. Follow him on Twitter Facebook and Instagram at @EmreKelly.

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