The Space Exploration Technologies Corp. has launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a customer payload plus its own broadband demonstration satellites in the company’s first mission since millions tuned in earlier this month for its Falcon Heavy debut.
- The launch carried a radar-imaging satellite and a pair of SpaceX’s own broadband satellites as a secondary payload.
- The PAZ satellite will orbit the planet 15 times a day and collect information - including ship tracking and weather data - for government and commercial customers.
- Microsat-2a and -2b are the first prototypes for the company’s planned constellation of satellites - dubbed Starlink - intended to offer broadband internet around the world. If successful, Starlink constellation will serve least served.
- SpaceX is targeting roughly 30 total launches this year, including flying its new Falcon Heavy rocket again in June.
Falcon 9 is a family of two-stage-to-orbit medium lift launch vehicles, named for its use of nine Merlin first-stage engines, designed and manufactured by SpaceX. Variants include the retired v1.0 and v1.1, as well as the currently operational "Full Thrust" v1.2 evolution. Falcon 9 is a partially-reusable launch system powered by rocket engines utilizing liquid oxygen (LOX) and rocket-grade kerosene (RP-1) propellants.