How Are Satellites Launched into Space?

Satellite view from space

For many, working from home in the age of the pandemic has only been possible because of satellite internet and Wi-Fi. If you’re a satellite internet user, you may take for granted the fact that every day, you wake up for work, power on your computer, and get to business.

But have you ever stopped to wonder how your internet is powered? Or even how satellites are launched into space in the first place? As satellite internet continues to advance, the fact that there must first be a satellite in orbit has not changed. So how exactly do satellites get launched into space? 

Satellites Are Launched by Rockets

All satellites are launched into space through one of two methods: hitching a ride on a rocket or riding in the cargo bay of a space shuttle. In order to make it past the thickest part of the atmosphere and conserve fuel, or propellant, the rockets take off at a 90-degree angle. The rockets must have enough propellant to not only penetrate the thickest part of the atmosphere, but also fight against the pull of Earth’s gravity.

Inertial Guidance Systems Adjust Rocket Positioning

Immediately after launch, the rocket makes adjustments based on calculations made by the inertial guidance system. An inertial guidance system is an advanced navigation tool that utilizes a computer, motion sensors, and rotation sensors simultaneously to calculate the orientation and velocity of the rocket. This navigation system allows the rocket to make adjustments to its position without taking the time to communicate back to the base station. Once the atmosphere has thinned, it releases the satellite. The satellite is propelled by the rocket’s momentum and simultaneously pulled toward Earth’s gravity. This balance allows the satellite to enter into orbit.  

Satellites Provide Satellite Internet Service

So how does the satellite go from rocket launch to powering your workday? As you navigate through web pages on your device, your computer sends a request to the satellite in orbit, which is roughly 22,000 miles out in space. The satellite then contacts the Hughes Network Operations Center (NOC), which locates the website you have requested. The information is then beamed back to your device along the same path. While it’s crazy to think that each click you make sends a request to a satellite orbiting the Earth, this distance is imperceptible with Hughesnet’s high-speed satellite internet. 

High-speed satellite internet depends on a satellite orbiting the earth that was once attached to a rocket and propelled into space using the rocket’s momentum and Earth’s gravitational pull. The satellite then provides you with the high-speed satellite internet your daily life depends on.