​SpaceX launches 64 satellites in mission that breaks 2 world records

It was "one of the most complex and intricate endeavors" SpaceX has ever undertaken.

  • SpaceX launched 64 satellites, belonging to various public and private organizations, into low orbit on Monday.
  • The company launched the satellites aboard its reusable Falcon 9 rocket.
  • Some of the satellites deployed on the mission come from companies seeking to revolutionize the Internet of Things.

On Monday afternoon, SpaceX's reusable Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, soared into low Earth orbit and deployed 64 satellites. Then, the rocket began a controlled descent back toward Earth, landing safely on a SpaceX drone ship in the Pacific Ocean.

The unprecedented mission marked the most satellites ever deployed in a single launch, and also the first time a reusable rocket has been launched and landed three times. It was SpaceX's 19th launch for 2018, the most the company has ever conducted in a single year.

SpaceX said it was "one of the most complex and intricate endeavors" it's ever undertaken. To launch the 64 satellites safely into orbit, engineers had to carefully pack them into a 20-foot stack divided into two parts.

via GIPHY

Dubbed Spaceflight SSO-A: SmallSat Express, the mission was organized by a Seattle-based company called Spaceflight Industries, which coordinates CubeSat launches for companies and universities worldwide. The deployed satellites belonged to 34 private and public organizations, including a handful of startups hoping to be among the first to revolutionize the Internet of Things (IoT—which, in simple terms, is "the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other)," according to Forbes writer Jacob Morgan.

Space 'ridesharing'

SpaceX is in a unique position to help revolutionize the IoT. With its reusable rocket technology, the company can offer "rideshare" missions that launch private satellites into orbit at unprecedentedly low prices, while still earning billions in the process. These new networks could yield exponential amounts of opportunity.

"Low earth orbit is not unlike smartphones," Curt Blake, president of Spaceflight, told Wired. "When you really lower the cost of phones—or rocket launches—people come up with a whole bunch of new applications."

Monday's mission was separate from SpaceX's Starlink project, which seeks to provide all corners of the planet with wireless internet beamed from 7,500 satellites in low Earth orbit.

Want to help fight climate change? Try going 'flexitarian.'

Whether or not there are tropical islands in 50 years might depend on whether or not we can eat fewer hamburgers.

Shutterstock
Surprising Science
  • Results from recent research suggest we have roughly 12 years to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. If we can't, then the amount of greenhouse gases released to the atmosphere will have compounding feedback loops that progressively warm the planet up further.
  • One of the biggest culprits in warming the planet is the production of beef and sheep meat.
  • Anybody could help prevent climate change by consuming less beef and sheep, or by cutting them out entirely.
Keep reading Show less

Iceland is officially worshiping Norse Gods again

For the first time since the Vikings sailed, the Icelandic public will soon be able to worship classical Norse gods like Odin, Thor, and Frigg at a public temple built in their honor.

popular

For the first time since the Vikings sailed, the Icelandic public are worshiping classical Norse gods like Odin, Thor, and Frigg at a public temple built in their honor. "The worship of Odin, Thor, Freya and the other gods of the old Norse pantheon became an officially recognized religion exactly 973 years after Iceland’s official conversion to Christianity."

Keep reading Show less

Heart wrenching letter confronts tech companies' accidental cruelty

"Didn't you see me Googling 'baby not moving?'" Gillian Brockell wrote a heartbreaking open letter to big tech companies imploring them to change the ways they target ads to users.

Gillian Brockell's letter posted on Twitter (Twitter)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Advertisers are increasingly using hyper-specific information on users, collected by big tech companies, to sell products.
  • An open letter published Tuesday outlines how this kind of ad targeting can be not only creepy, but also inadvertently cruel and distressing.
  • Also on Tuesday, the House questioned Google's CEO, partly on issues related to data privacy.
Keep reading Show less