Elon Musk reveals how to stuff 60 Starlink satellites on SpaceX’s Falcon rocket

Space

We now know how many of SpaceX’s Starlink broadband data satellites, developed in Redmond, Wash., can be crammed into the nose cone of a Falcon rocket.

The answer to the ultimate question is 60.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk showed how five dozen satellites fit, just barely, inside a Falcon fairing today in a tweet:

First 60 @SpaceX Starlink satellites loaded into Falcon fairing. Tight fit. pic.twitter.com/gZq8gHg9uK

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 12, 2019

The Starlink project is due to go through a milestone Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as early as next week. The demonstration mission will mark another step toward the deployment of thousands of satellites designed to provide low-cost global internet access.

These first satellites are equipped with antennas and networking equipment to communicate with ground stations in a variety of locations, including three in Washington state. But as SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell reported at this week’s Satellite 2019 conference, they won’t demonstrate the satellite-to-satellite links that knit the constellation together. That will have to wait for future deployments.

For what it’s worth, 60 satellites won’t set a record for a single rocket launch, or even a single Falcon 9 launch. Last December’s SmallSat Express launch, organized by Seattle-based Spaceflight, put 64 satellites on a Falcon 9.

In follow-up tweets, Musk added a few more details about the launch, the satellites and their role in the Starlink constellation:

If static fire

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