Elon Musk-owned SpaceX launches record-breaking satellites in orbit

Katie Ramirez
January 27, 2021

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A veteran rocket from billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's SpaceX aerospace company launched 143 spacecraft into space on Sunday, a new record for the most spaceships deployed on a single mission, according to the company. "The Starlink satellites aboard this mission were the first in the constellation to deploy to a polar orbit".

The e-commerce giant in July obtained approval from the authorities to deploy a constellation of more than 3,000 satellites in low orbit, which must provide connectivity to areas now not covered anywhere in the world.

The tone is rising between Elon Musk (SpaceX) and Jeff Bezos (Amazon), competing for their constellations of low-orbiting satellites, supposed to provide high-speed internet from space. Although Amazon passed a crucial early infrastructure milestone in December for the antennas it requires to link to the network, its satellites' development or launch has yet to begin.

So, instead of getting their own rocket to send their objects into space - something that would cost a lot more -, they can have a "ride" from Elon Musk's company to complete the objective. SpaceX's director of satellite policy, David Goldman, said in a January 22 letter to the FCC that its competitor only came to those conclusions by "cherrypicking data" and "ignoring the majority of the modification" SpaceX has proposed.

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Amazon fired back in a statement, saying, "The facts are simple". We designed the Kuiper system to avoid interference with Starlink, and now SpaceX wants to change the design of their system.

"Those changes not only create a more unsafe environment for collisions in space, but they also increase radio interference for customers", the statement reads. It is clearly in their interest to stifle the competition if they can, but certainly not in that of the public, "he continued".

The 143 satellites include 48 Earth imaging satellites, 17 tiny communications satellites, and 30 small satellites for the United States and Europe by Germany-based Exolaunch. An Amazon spokesman told CNN that SpaceX's Starlink satellites might wound up in orbits up to 30 km above or below the orbit.

According to FCC records, SpaceX chose to limit Starlink antennas to "elevations of 580 km or below".

The FCC accepted Amazon's plan for Kuiper in July, which the firm claims would spend more than $10 billion in building. Crucially, the constraint would only start until Amazon started launching its satellites.

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