SpaceX launches internet satellite prototypes

Tim-Peake

In addition to launching these extra "passengers", SpaceX also made their first attempt to retrieve the rocket fairings - the "clam-shells" that enclose the satellites, at the top of the rocket.

Following the delay to a launch orginally scheduled to take place this weekend, SpaceX - founded by Elon Musk, electric vehicle magnate and electronic internet-borne payments pioneer - successfully launched the first two satellites for its Starlink global broadband platform.

SpaceX's PAZ mission was a success, kicking off a project that could one day provide low-priced internet to millions of people worldwide.

Its key feature, however, would be providing connectivity to rural areas and developing nations now under-served by traditional broadband infrastructure. But even if SpaceX's demonstration satellites are successful, the company has a long way to go before its ambitious project is up and running.

For the first time, the company fitted out one of its recovery vessels (officially named Mr Steven) with a massive net that it hoped would be able to catch the rocket's nose cone as it fell back to earth.

A December launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg created an evening visual spectacle over the Southland, with hundreds of people snapping photos of the light show and posting them online, with some even suggesting it was an alien invasion.

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SpaceX launched again on Thursday - this time to put a Spanish radar satellite above the Earth. The fairing protects the payload when the rocket is blasting up through the skies but is useless once the spaceship has passed out of the atmosphere and is jettisoned.

SpaceX called off an attempted launch of its Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday morning due to strong high-altitude winds. Last week, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai announced that he had endorsed Starlink, but the plan has yet to garner official FCC approval.

SpaceX has already sent dozens of satellites into orbit over the past few years, but its latest launch may be the most significant yet.

Watching a rocket launch is something very interesting and exciting, so, if you haven't yet watched one, now is the moment.

The two-stage recycled rocket built by Space Exploration Technologies blasted off during a window set for 6:16 a.m. from Space Launch Complex-4 on South Base. Once the rocket is in space, the fairing breaks into two parts, and falls back to earth. The fairing consists of two half-cones, which together extend 17 feet (5.2 meters) wide and 43 feet (13.1 meters) high.

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