SpaceX is now closer to launching the Starlink global satellite Internet system, which is planned to start its work this year. Today, on June 4, Elon Musk's company made another successful launch of the Falcon 9 with the Starlink 7 mission, carrying 60 more satellites for its Starlink constellation into orbit.
The company launched the same first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket for the fifth time and successfully returned it on SpaceX's drone landing barge in the ocean so it can potentially be used again. Previously, it was not possible to return the stage after the fifth mission.
The current version of the Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket can theoretically be reused up to 10 times with intermediate technical inspections and up to 100 times with a replacement of parts of the first stage.
Also, during this mission, SpaceX launched the first Starlink satellite, code-named VisorSat, with a deployable visor to block sunlight from hitting the brightest spots of the spacecraft. It is necessary so that the satellites do not interfere with observations of the starry sky from the earth.
With this launch, the Starlink satellite orbiting constellation reached 480 satellites. Earlier, Elon Musk said that the normal operation of the network requires at least 780 satellites. This month, SpaceX plans to conduct another full launch, and by the end of the year, the plan includes five more launches of Starlink satellites.
SpaceX already has permission to launch almost 12,000 satellites.
This year, SpaceX plans to begin providing communications services to first customers in the US and Canada. A closed beta test will start next month. Full deployment of the Starlink network worldwide is scheduled for the mid-2020s. Earlier, SpaceX estimated the costs of implementing the Starlink project at $10 billion, expecting that in the first year of its operation, the system will generate revenue of about $30 billion.
There is no exact tariff data yet, but SpaceX promised that Starlink will cost less than we pay now, but will work 5-10 times faster.