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SpaceX launches test satellites ahead of global constellation plans

The Falcon 9 carrying the PAZ satellite and demo Starlink units launched from California on February 22 The Falcon 9 carrying the PAZ satellite and demo Starlink units launched from California on February 22

SpaceX has successfully launched the first two demonstration satellites for its proposed Starlink global satellite internet network aboard one of its Falcon 9 launch vehicles, part of a joint payload mission alongside Hisdesat’s PAZ satellite.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}The two demo satellites have been named Tintin A and Tintin B, with SpaceX founder Elon Musk confirming on Twitter that both units had been successfully deployed and had begun communicating with their Earth stations following the launch.

SpaceX has outlined its plans for the constellation in filings with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which describe a network of more than 4,000 cross-linked Ku- and Ka-band satellites (the frequency bands most commonly used for maritime VSAT today), as well as more than 7,500 additional V-band satellites in a lower orbit.

The eventual goal for the approximately 12,000 satellite constellation is to make broadband internet available anywhere on the planet at an affordable cost from the mid-2020s onwards.

Satellite Automatic Identification System (AIS) company exactEarth will also benefit from the successful launch, with its AIS payload, exactView-8 (EV-8), carried by the PAZ satellite also on board the Falcon 9 .

The hosted AIS payload is owned by exactEarth and is expected to be commissioned in the coming months as the final component in its first generation network, to provide AIS vessel data which is fully time synchronous with radar data provided by PAZ, and near synchronous with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery from other radar satellites.

“We congratulate Hisdesat on the successful launch of PAZ. The launch of our EV-8 AIS payload is a major milestone for our team here at exactEarth as we mark the completion of our first-generation constellation,” said exactEarth CEO Peter Mabson.

“The unique capabilities of this AIS payload to enable high quality radar/AIS data fusion are expected to further advance our reputation as leaders in the AIS industry. When combined with the ongoing roll-out of our second-generation real-time satellite constellation, our AIS service offering clearly provides important differentiation and compelling value to a host of global AIS users.”{/mprestriction}

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