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SpaceX set to launch first prototype Starlink satellites for global internet


The prototype spacecraft, known as Microsat 2a and 2b, are reportedly to be included as secondary payloads on a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, due for launch on Saturday. The primary payload is a 3,000-pound Spanish radar observation satellite called Paz.

SpaceX conducted a static-fire test of the Falcon 9, which makes use of a previously flown first-stage booster, at Vandenberg today. The test involved briefly firing up the booster's rocket engines as a rehearsal for Saturday's liftoff.

Paz is due to be launched into a 319-mile, nearly pole-to-pole orbit — but SpaceX's satellites could eventually go higher to test a Ku-band radio communication system in concert with an array of ground stations.

SpaceX has given the lead role for development of the satellite network to a team headquartered in Redmond, Wash.

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