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SpaceX launches 57 special Starlink satellites equipped with sun protection



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A previous night launch of Starlink on June 3. Today’s looked like this too, we promise.

SpaceX

Under cover of darkness in the early hours of Friday morning, SpaceX launched its ninth operational flight Starlink broadband satellites. The launch had three delays that reach back to the end of June due to weather and extra technical checks. The long-term launch reached a lift around 1:12 am ET (10:12 PM PT), when the company’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket rose into a blaze of fire and smoke from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The first stage of the rocket launcher returned to Earth and completed a perfect landing on the droneship Of Course I Still Love You stationed in the Atlantic. SpaceX also noted that it will try to catch the sliding halves of the rocket, as they did during the launch of ANASIS-II on 20 July.

The payload of the mission included two rideshare satellites and the first round of SpaceX’s broadband satellites equipped with an umbrella to reduce their brightness, which has been a sore point for many stargazers.

Since Elon Musk’s company launched the small satellites over a year ago, astronomers and other observers have been surprised and even disturbed by the amount of sunlight reflects the orbiting routers, often mixes with scientific observations.

Musk and SpaceX have collaborated with major astronomical organizations on the issue and have promised to solve the problem when they plan to launch tens of thousands of satellites in the coming years. Initially, SpaceX tried to launch a so-called “darksat”, which was essentially a Starlink satellite with a dark coating, but the results from this strategy were mixed. Subsequently, the company developed and tested a distributable sunscreen as it calls VisorSat.

A VisorSat-equipped satellite was launched earlier this month to test the new technology and the next launch will carry the first round of satellites that are completely shaded. According to SpaceX, it has not yet reached its trajectory, but that has not stopped the company from launching the next batch with the same visor.

You can watch the launch again or on CNET’s YouTube channel:

It’s been a week for SpaceX. On Sunday, the crew dragon returned to Earth from the International Space Station, splash in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday. Moreover, the SN5 Starship prototype completed a brief “jump” at the SpaceX facility in Boca Chica, Texas. The thermos-shaped prototype, a precursor to a potential Mars-bound spacecraft, launched 500 meters into the air and nailed the landing, leading Musk to tweet “Mars looks real.”


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