An amateur satellite tracker has captured spectacular footage of a train of SpaceX Starlink satellites. The 60 Starlink satellites were launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral on May 24.
Utilizing a WATEC 902H camera with a Canon FD 1.8/50 mm lens, Dr. Marco Langbroek captured footage of the Starlink satellites as they passed overhead from his home in the Netherlands. The self-professed “spy sat tracker” admitted on Twitter to excitedly “shouting when they entered FOV [field of view].”
The 60 satellites were deployed as a group from the Falcon 9 upper stage with nothing more than inertia to separate them from one another. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk likened the process to fanning out a deck of cards. The footage captured by Dr. Langbroek appeared to show that the satellites have not only separated from one another but that they had also likely begun to have their orbits raised.
Shortly after Dr. Langbroek posted the footage, Musk confirmed on Twitter that SpaceX satellite operators had begun orbit raising operations. “Krypton thrusters operative, satellites initiating orbit raise every 90 mins,” tweeted Musk.
The 60 satellites launched on Friday are the first of the Starlink mega constellation that, once complete will include as many as 12,000 satellites. Following the success of the first mission, SpaceX confirmed plans to launch an additional 6 missions in 2019. The company hopes to deploy 720 STarlink satellites by the end of 2020, a number they claim will be sufficient for “continuous coverage of most populated areas on Earth.”