SpaceX is undoubtedly the hottest thing in the space exploration industry right now. Elon Musk's brainchild has been making significant waves since it successfully ran its orbital space flight last year.
Following its momentous success, SpaceX has been working towards manned space exploration and taking people into actual space. While the firm hopes to become the first to achieve its lofty dreams, it has also been working round the clock on several of its affiliate operations.
Starlink Launches 60 Satellites, Misses Crucial Landing
Most prominent is the Starlink program, which SpaceX used as a flagship project. The company is looking to install satellites worldwide, connect people worldwide, and provide easy and fast internet access to millions of people. In laudable fashion, SpaceX has refused to abandon its satellite mission, and it has benefited significantly from the publicity that it provided.
This month, SpaceX marked another significant milestone as it launched 60 Starlink satellites into orbit. The company launched its Falcon 9 rocket, which took the satellites into space, lifting off from the Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. It had broadband satellites, which were to launch in conjunction with the hundreds of Starlink satellites already operating in orbit.
Sadly, the mission wasn't all a success. Approximately nine minutes following the launch, the rocket's first stage made its descent into Earth to attempt its landing on the "Of Course I Still Love You" drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. Sadly, it missed its target.
In the live launch commentary, Jessica Anderson, one of SpaceX's manufacturing engineers, said:
"It does look like we did not land our booster on Of Course I Still Love You tonight. It is unfortunate that we did not recover this booster, but our second stage is still on a nominal trajectory."
The space company added that it would prefer to recover the Falcon 9 rocket for reuse. However, its primary objective will be to deliver the flight's payload into orbit. Given SpaceX's success with launches, this will mark a little dent in its overall growth trajectory. The company has continued to push the limits, and it looks set to keep on working with the Starlink project going forward.
Starlink Pushing for the Moon
Musk himself is putting a lot of hype behind the Starlink project. On Twitter, the billionaire confirmed that Starlink plans to double internet speeds for customers later this year as it works to build a global consumer internet framework.
"Speed will double to ~300Mb/s & latency will drop to ~20ms later this year," Musk said in a tweet, responding to a user who showed impressive speed tests that ranged between 77 and 130 Mbps.
Essentially, latency is the delay observed in an internet's network. It is defined by the amount of time required for a signal to travel from a destination and back. Primarily, latency and download speeds are the main drivers of an internet service's efficiency.
In a separate tweet, Musk added that Starlink hopes to reach customers in most parts of the world by the end of the year. By 2022, the company hopes to take Starlink to global penetration. Musk added that, like other satellite broadband carriers, Starlink hopes to reach customers in "low to medium population density areas." At the same time, cellular remains the go-to choice for people in densely-populated urban settings.
New Rockets Incoming
Now that SpaceX appears to be making significant headway with its Starlink project, the company remains focused on several other endeavors.
On Tuesday, a tweet showed the company testing its new Starship SN10 (Serial No. 10) carrier. The procedure was a "static fire" test, involving the rocket lighting up its three Raptor engines for a few seconds at the company's site in South Texas.
Rocket engines briefly ignite status fires when they run tests while being anchored to the ground. The particular test has been synonymous with SpaceX for years, and sources claim that the SN 10 rocket could be on track to launch before the end of the month. The launch will be a demonstration flight that will take the pocket about 10 km into the skies before returning.
The flight will mark SpaceX's third high-altitude test for its Starship fleet in as many months, following similar expeditions for the SN 8 and SN 9 jets in December 2020 and earlier this month. Both of the flights went relatively well, although they didn't end well. The two jets landed hard on their pads and eventually exploded.
SpaceX Raises Funds
With so many projects in the pipeline, SpaceX has continued to see tremendous growth in its core business as well. The company has managed to piggyback on the positive sentiment gotten from past successes, and it announced an $850 million capital raise this week.
According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), SpaceX successfully raised funds as it looks to bankroll some of its incoming endeavors. Bloomberg reported that the funding round was led by notable investment and venture capital firm Sequoia Capital. To date, Sequoia has invested over $600 million in SpaceX.
CNBC also reported that SpaceX sold existing secondary shares, netting a further $750 million. With $1.6 billion in available capital, SpaceX is now objectively worth a reported $74 billion. This will mark the firm's second capital raise in a year - it successfully gathered $2 billion in funds last AUgust, valuing it at $46 billion.
While the capital haul might seem like too much money in the space of a year, hardly does any firm have SpaceX's capital needs. The next few years will be pivotal to the company's future as it looks to solidify its place as a leader in the space exploration industry.