SpaceX launches 60 Starlink satellites aboard 100th Falcon 9 – Spaceflight now

A Falcon 9 rocket takes off from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Tuesday night. Attribution: SpaceX

The Falcon 9 rocket’s 100th aircraft launched 60 satellites into orbit for SpaceX’s Starlink network on Tuesday night.

Tuesday’s successful mission set a new record for SpaceX’s rocket reuse program – which could break again in a matter of months if SpaceX’s’ feverish launch capability is maintained. For the first time, the reusable Falcon 9 booster completed its seventh flight into space and returned to flight Tuesday night.

The Falcon 9 rocket fired its nine kerosene-powered Merlin 1D engines from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 9:13:12 PM EST Tuesday (0213: 12 GMT Wednesday). The 229-foot (70 m) launcher pad slammed through a layer of broken clouds over the top of the launcher pad, rocked northeast from Cape Canaveral and lined up with the mission-orbiting aircraft within the Starlink Network.

The rocket’s 15 – story first – stage booster Falcon 9 flew two and a half miles above the elevator, setting off a course for SpaceX’s drone ship “Off course I still love you” controlled touchdown. Northeast of Cape Canaveral in the Atlantic Ocean,

The booster assigned to SpaceX’s rocket inventory – rebuilt its center engine for braking maneuvers just before the touchdown, and then extended the landing gear before the drone settled on the ship’s deck. The impeccable landing put an end to the seventh mission of the B1049 vehicle, which became the “Fleet Leader” of the SpaceX.

Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, said the latest version of the Falcon 9 booster can fly 10 times without major upgrades and possibly 100 times with periodic overhauls.

Along with the reused first-stage booster, the Falcon 9 launched with a recycled clamshell-like payload cover, half of which flew on the previous two missions. The other half of the fair was a flagship launch.

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Two rescue ships were sent out to sea from a mission Tuesday night after parachuting from space to Earth.

As the booster and firing shells return to Earth, the upper stage of the Falcon 9 leads the 60 flat-panel Starlink satellites into a transmission orbit tilted 53 degrees to the equator. Fifteen minutes after the liftoff, the upper stage released a retention rod to allow a collection of 60 spacecraft to fly over the North Atlantic Ocean from the rocket.

Falcon 9 aims to place the satellites in an elliptical orbit of 132 miles (213 km) to 227 miles (366 km). A member of the SpaceX launch team confirmed in a mission audio loop that the rocket had achieved the intended orbital inclusion.

The launch was previously scheduled for Saturday night, but was later delayed until Sunday, when SpaceX terminated a launch attempt due to concerns about “Mission Assurance”. SpaceX overcame a launch opportunity on Monday following poor conditions in the Falcon 9 booster’s offshore landing zone, setting the stage for Tuesday’s countdown.

Tuesday night’s launch was the 23rd SpaceX mission in 2020, expanding the company’s record flights. The previous record for most space space launches in a year was 21 missions in 2018.

The Exhaust Host Plume from the nine Merlin 1D main engines was evident as the Falcon 9 rocket soared through the clouds over Cape Canaveral on Tuesday night. Attribution: Stephen Clark / Space Travel Now

The Quarterton Starlink satellites, built by SpaceXX in Redmond, Washington, are expected to develop power-generating solar arrays and launch their crypton ion thrusters at an operating altitude of 341 miles (550 km). Join Beam Broadband Internet Signals at over 800 other Starlink relay stations around the world.

With the launch on Sunday, SpaceX deploys 955 Starlink satellites in orbit.

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SpaceX plans to launch the initial block of about 1,500 Starlink satellites into orbit 341 miles above the Earth. The company, founded by billionaire Elon Musk, has the regulatory approval of the Federal Communications Commission to set up up to 12,000 small Starlink broadband stations operating on Ku-band, Ka-band and V-band frequencies.

Preliminary plans are also in place for a larger ship of 30,000 additional Starlink satellites, but the FCCC has not approved a network of that size.

Designed for low-latency Internet service, the StarLink network has entered beta testing in multiple US states and Canada, according to SpaceXEX.

“SpaceX launched the” Better Danning Beta “test program last month,” the company said in a post on its website. “Service invitations have been sent to a section of people who request availability updates on Starlink.com and live in serviceable areas. Two weeks ago, Canada approved Starlink Regulatory, and last week SpaceX began service to parts of southern Canada. ”

Kate Ties, SpaceXEx engineer, co-hosted by the company’s launch webcast on Tuesday night, said the “invitation only” beta testing program aims to test StarLink connectivity in rural and remote areas of North America and South Canada.

“As we launch more satellites, more ground stations are installed and our networking software is improved, data speed, latency and uptime are significantly improved,” Tice said.

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By mid-2019, the latency of the SpaceX projects on the Starlink network will be reduced from 16 to 19 milliseconds, Tice said.

“At our current pace, we expect to significantly expand our beta from January to February next year,” she said.

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