On Thursday morning, Elon Musk’s space company, SpaceX successfully launched its latest Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Spanish Earth-observing satellite called Paz into low-Earth orbit. The Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, also carried the space company’s first two demo satellites to test out the technology needed to beam down internet from space.
The $200 million Spanish imaging satellite ‘PAZ’ can generate high-resolution images up to 25 centimeters during the day or night and regardless of meteorological conditions. It will orbit the Earth 15 times per day, covering the entire globe in just 24 hours. Designed for a mission life of five and a half years, PAZ will gather data, serving both commercial and government needs.
Successful deployment of PAZ satellite to low-Earth orbit confirmed. pic.twitter.com/xOEuyaFrcZ
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 22, 2018
The two test satellites are orbital test toward SpaceX’s plan to build the largest satellite network in history, bringing high-speed internet to billions around the world. The goal, to create a constellation of more than 12,000 satellites, is part of a project called Starlink that aims to provide worldwide broadband internet access by 2024.
First two Starlink demo satellites, called Tintin A & B, deployed and communicating to Earth stations pic.twitter.com/TfI53wHEtz
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 22, 2018
The launch of the Falcon 9 rocket came after two launch delays earlier this week. This is the second major success for SpaceX this month, which launched a Tesla Roadster toward Mars on February 6.
This launch also included SpaceX’s first attempt to catch Falcons falling payload fairing out of the sky. The company attempted this catch using a boat named Mr. Steven. As per Musk, the boat was a few hundred meters away from the $6 million fairing. However, the fairing arrived in good shape.
After the launch, Elon Musk tweeted that satellites will attempt to beam “Hello World” when they pass near LA.
SpaceX expects its Starlink program will turn huge profits, much of which will be put toward developing a future program to establish cities on Mars.