SpaceX drone goes to sea for Falcon 9’s next Starlink launch and landing

SpaceX drone goes to sea for Falcon 9's next Starlink launch and landing

The upgraded SpaceX drone will sail approximately 630 km (~ 390 miles) into the Atlantic Ocean to support Falcon 9’s next Starlink launch and landing.

This year alone will be the 11th Starlink launch of SpaceX, the 12th Operation (v1.0) launch and the 13th Starlink launch in total, representing more than 700 working satellites in orbit. In an interview with SpaceX COO and President Gwyn Shotwell in May 2020, general beta tests could begin only after the completion of 14 Starlink launches, while recent FCC filings show that only V1.0 satellites are considered part of the SpaceX operating constellation. In other words, if successful, Starlink-12 would be just two launches away from the galaxy enough to launch public Internet service beta tests.

Meanwhile, the Falcon 9 rocket space mission assigned to the mission is on the verge of breaking the booster reuse turn-round record – currently set at 51 days between the same booster launches provided for Starlink-12.

Falcon 9B 1058 – pictured here on July 20 – Assigned to Starlink-12. (SpaceX)

The SpaceX rocket, known as the Falcon Booster 9B 1058, became the first U.S. spacecraft to launch astronauts since 2011, when NASA sent astronauts Bob Behenken and Doug Hurley aboard the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft. After a successful launch on May 30, the spacecraft docked with the RSS about two days later and spent more than two months in orbit before returning to Earth in early August.

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Meanwhile, Booster B1058 was busy as the spacecraft launched into orbit. The rocket broke SpaceXX’s best record when it launched South Korea’s Anasis II communications satellite on July 20, 51 days after supporting the crew’s inaugural space launch. Breaking the previous 62-day record of 51 days of turntable space exposure, it also set a very high record, becoming the fastest reusable orbit-class rocket ever built by NASA’s spacecraft.

(Richard Angle)
The Falcon 9 Booster B1058 is the first U.S. rocket to be launched into space in less than a decade. (SpaceX)

According to current estimates, the Falcon 9B1058 (Net) will launch Starlink-12 on Thursday, September 17 at 2:17 pm, earlier than EDT (UTC-4). Avoid delays, which represent a 59-day turning point from the booster’s record-breaking second launch. If Starlink-12 launches by September 19th, the B1058 will own the first- and second-place records of the SpaceX and technically fly three times in 110 days.

After Starlink-12, SpaceX aims to launch Starlink-13 by the end of September, and the U.S. is scheduled to launch its third U.S. military GPS III – the new Falcon 9 Booster B1062 – before September 30 (NET). If all goes according to schedule, September 2020 will be the first four launch months in the history of SpaceX.

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