SpaceX successfully launched an Earth observation satellite from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California using its workhorse Falcon-9 rocket, on February 22, 2018.
This was not a routine launch by SpaceX, as two other mini satellites were launched into the orbit to work on the aim of creating the Starlink constellation, which is a network of satellites that would deliver low-cost, high-speed internet globally.
Elon Musk explained this launch in a tweet, saying “Today’s Falcon launch carries 2 SpaceX test satellites for global broadband. If successful, Starlink constellation will serve least served.”
According to Musk’s plan 12,000 small satellites will make up for the Starlink more than all the satellites that have been launched in history. These will be placed in two separate layers of satellite constellation at a low Earth orbit (LEO) of 4,425 satellites at altitudes ranging between 1,110 km and 1,325 km, and very low Earth orbit (VLEO) of 7,518 satellites operating at altitudes between 335 km and 346 km.
LEO Constellation is expected to provide high-speed broadband service around the world, as well as enhance capacity focusing on a narrower area.
SpaceX has also developed and launched fully reusable rockets, with an aim to reduce costs of space exploration by least a hundredfold.
After the launch, the nosecone separates into two fairings after it has deployed the payload. The nosecone that was meant to land back on Earth was fitted with a parachute, to reduce the speed of landing. Mr Steven, a boat, was placed at the spot of landing, along with a giant net to catch them. However, one of the fairings landed several hundred metres away from the boat, though on water, it did not suffer from any damage.