In a rare feat, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) was able to capture live video of the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket landing on a drone off the coast of Florida. SpaceX’s latest mission saw the company launch a satellite for communications service provider Globalstar from Florida, and as always the launch was followed by the iconic Falcon 9 returning to Earth and landing with success on his “feet”.
However, before the Globalstar mission, SpaceX was able to capture high-resolution footage of the Falcon 9 landing for a Starlink launch. Starlink is SpaceX’s low Earth orbit satellite internet service, and typically the company’s cameras on its ship are usually cut out just as the rocket lands, but for the Starlink mission, the live stream and a clip shared by SpaceX, later showed the rocket landing in all its glory.
Starlink allows SpaceX to broadcast high-definition video of the Falcon 9 landing off the Gulf of Mexico
Since opening Starlink for public use in 2020, SpaceX has consistently expanded the reach of the service. Since then, the company has launched more than two thousand satellites into orbit, including those with laser connectivity, introduced new user terminals and extended coverage to aircraft and recreational vehicles.
As part of Starlink’s ability to be used by mobile vehicles, SpaceX also uses the service on its drones for Falcon 9 landings. It uses Starlink to broadcast live footage, which is then streamed to viewers on YouTube.
The Starlink launch took place last week and saw the Falcon 9 lift off from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Since the mission took place in the afternoon, the drone was also well lit by the sun, which then allowed the cameras to capture a crystal clear view of the 187ft high rocket landing off the Gulf. from Mexico.
The landing marked another key milestone for SpaceX, which disrupted the aerospace industry by grounding its first-stage boosters. It marked the first century of a repurposed rocket landing for the company since it was founded by Musk in 2002.
Musk also confirmed that the video footage was the best his company had captured to date and credited Starlink for the high-quality result.
Through Starlink, Musk’s company not only aims to provide low-cost internet access to consumers, but will also target multiple industries such as finance, aviation and shipping. All three have their unique environments and needs, and Starlink has the capabilities to serve all of them.
Users in the financial sector need high-speed Internet coverage that allows them to receive real-time information on markets around the world. With lower latency from satellites in low Earth orbit and faster data transmission in space, several quarterbacks believe Starlink could be suitable for this industry.
On the other hand, commercial aviation requires high altitude coverage, and since Starlink satellites orbit the Earth much lower than spacecraft belonging to other Internet service providers, the speed of service is significantly better. Finally, shipping companies often need Internet access in the ocean, and with satellites, their needs are met as well.
SpaceX also plans to dramatically increase the number of spacecraft it puts into orbit with each launch through its Starship next-generation launch vehicle platform. Starship is significantly larger than the Falcon 9 and it will allow SpaceX to launch hundreds of satellites at once – at a time when the LEO satellite space is heating up with more and more companies entering the fray.