SpaceX launches DSS-20: A satellite providing high-speed internet to underserved areas of the globe

SpaceX launches communications satellite

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carried a commercial communications satellite into space on Thursday, extending a streak of successful launches this year.

The rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 5:30 p.m. EST.

About eight minutes after launch, the rocket's first stage returned to Earth, landing on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean.

The payload, EchoStar XXIII, a communications satellite operated by EchoStar Corporation, was released about an hour after launch.

According to EchoStar, the satellite will provide broadband connectivity to areas of the globe that are underserved or unserved by current communication infrastructures.

It will orbit at an altitude of about 22,000 miles (nearly 35,000 kilometres) and provide coverage primarily to the Americas and the Caribbean.

In a tweet, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said that the satellite will eventually join a growing constellation of Starlink satellites. Starlink is SpaceX's initiative to provide affordable high-speed internet to regions with little to no connectivity.

This launch was the fifth flight for this booster, which also supported the GPS III satellite mission, the Transporter-1 mission, and the ANASIS-II mission.

SpaceX has plans for more flights as the company is scheduled to launch the CRS-26 cargo mission to the International Space Station at 5:59 a.m. EST on Tuesday, Dec. 21, from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center.

Satellite technology advances

The launch is a significant milestone for SpaceX and its mission to improve global connectivity.

Space-based internet connectivity is seen as a potential game-changer for providing internet access to rural or remote regions that conventional terrestrial networks cannot reach.

EchoStar XXIII uses Ka-band radio frequencies, which have proven to be particularly effective for providing satellite internet connectivity. The satellite's advanced beam-forming capabilities enable it to provide high-speed service to many endpoints without the need for expensive customer equipment.

According to a statement from Steve Richey, EchoStar's president and chief operating officer, the satellite is an important step toward providing universal broadband access, saying:

"With the capacity and flexibility of this next-generation satellite, we will continue to advance our goal of connecting people around the world."

SpaceX has launched several other satellites intended to advance satellite internet technology. The most notable is Starlink, which to date, consists of nearly 3,000 satellites.

However, the company's plan is to launch as many as 42,000 satellites. While concerns have been raised about the potential environmental impact of such a large number of satellites, SpaceX has implemented several initiatives to mitigate potential collisions and space junk.

As the need for internet connectivity becomes more pervasive and countries recognize broadband access as a critical component of economic development, the role of satellite internet will continue to grow.

Thursday's launch is yet another milestone for SpaceX, which over the past year, has achieved numerous firsts in space exploration, including the first orbital flight of its Starship spacecraft and the first crewed flight of its Crew Dragon spacecraft.

With its record-setting launch and drone-ship landing, SpaceX has once again achieved a successful mission, taking us one step closer to universal broadband access.

Such advances in space technology have the potential to revolutionize the way we communicate and contribute significantly to global connectivity.