SpaceX launches 53 more Starlink internet satellites – Spaceflight Now

Live coverage of the countdown and launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Starlink 4-19 mission launched SpaceX’s next batch of 53 Starlink broadband satellites. follow us on Twitter.

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SpaceX on Friday launched a Falcon 9 reusable booster for the record 13th time from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying 53 other Starlink internet satellites into orbit. Liftoff from pad 39A occurred at 12:09 p.m. EDT (4:09 p.m. GMT).

The Falcon 9 will head northeast of Kennedy to deliver the Broadband Relay Stations flat to an orbit between 144 miles and 209 miles in altitude (232 by 337 kilometers). The deployment of the 53 flat satellites from the upper stage of the Falcon 9 is scheduled approximately 15 minutes after liftoff.

The launch will kick off a busy weekend for SpaceX, with two more Falcon 9 flights scheduled for Saturday and Sunday from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California and then from Cape Town Space Force Station. Canaveral, a few miles south of Kennedy Space Center.

With Friday’s mission, SpaceX will have launched 2,706 Starlink internet satellites, including prototypes and test units that are no longer in service, nearly an order of magnitude more spacecraft than any other fleet in the world. spacecraft. Friday’s launch will mark the 48th SpaceX mission primarily dedicated to carrying Starlink internet satellites into orbit.

Stationed inside a firing range at the Kennedy Launch Control Center, the SpaceX launch team will begin loading super-chilled and densified kerosene and liquid oxygen boosters into the 229-meter Falcon 9 vehicle. feet high (70 meters) at T-minus 35 minutes Friday.

The pressurizing helium will also flow into the rocket in the last half hour of the countdown. During the last seven minutes before liftoff, Falcon 9’s Merlin main engines will be thermally conditioned for flight through a procedure known as “cooling down”. Falcon 9’s range guidance and safety systems will also be configured for a 12:08:50 launch.

After liftoff, the 229-foot-tall (70-meter) Falcon 9 rocket will direct its 1.7 million pound thrust – produced by nine Merlin engines – to head northeast over the Atlantic Ocean .

The rocket will exceed the speed of sound in about a minute, then shut down its nine main engines two and a half minutes after liftoff. The thruster will exit from Falcon 9’s upper stage, then fire pulses from cold gas control thrusters and extend titanium grid fins to help bring the vehicle back into the atmosphere.

Two brake burns will slow the rocket to land on the drone ship “A Shortfall of Gravitas” approximately 400 miles (650 kilometers) approximately eight and a half minutes after liftoff.

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Friday’s flying booster stage – tail number B1060 – will set a new record for becoming the most flown member of SpaceX’s reusable rocket fleet. It debuted on June 30, 2020, with the launch of a GPS navigation satellite for the US military, then flew again in September and October 2020 on Starlink missions.

It was launched six times in 2021 with the geostationary communications satellite Türksat 5A, four Starlink missions and the rideshare mission of SpaceX’s small satellite Transporter 2. Friday’s launch will be the booster’s fourth flight of 2022, all flights dedicated to the Starlink network.

SpaceX has qualified Falcon 9 boosters for at least 15 missions, up from the previous design life of 10 flights for each Falcon 9 first stage.

Friday’s mission first-stage landing will take place moments before the Falcon 9’s second-stage engine shuts down to launch the Starlink satellites into orbit. The separation of the 53 spacecraft, built by SpaceX in Redmond, Washington, is scheduled for T+plus 15 minutes, 26 seconds.

Retention rods will release from the Starlink payload stack, allowing flat-packed satellites to fly freely from the Falcon 9 upper stage into orbit. The 53 spacecraft will deploy solar arrays and go through automated activation stages, then use krypton-powered ion engines to maneuver into their operational orbit.

Falcon 9’s guidance computer aimed to deploy the satellites into an elliptical orbit between 144 and 209 miles in altitude, at an orbital inclination of 53.2 degrees from the equator. The satellites will use onboard propulsion to do the rest of the work to reach a circular orbit 335 miles (540 kilometers) above Earth.

Friday’s launch will be the first to place Starlink satellites in a low-altitude elliptical transfer orbit since February, when aerodynamic drag produced by a solar storm swept nearly 40 Starlink satellites back into the atmosphere shortly after the launch. launch. Since then, all of SpaceX’s Starlink launches have included two upper-stage engine burns to climb to a higher orbit for spacecraft deployment.

Friday’s mission’s Starlink satellites will fly in one of five orbital “shells” used in SpaceX’s global internet network. After reaching operational orbit, the satellites will enter commercial service and begin transmitting broadband signals to consumers, who can purchase Starlink service and connect to the network with a ground terminal provided by SpaceX.

ROCKET: Falcon 9 (B1060.13)

PAYLOAD: 53 Starlink satellites (Starlink 4-19)

LAUNCH SITE: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

RELEASE DATE: June 17, 2022

LAUNCH TIME: 12:09:20 EDT (1609:20 GMT)

WEATHER FORECAST: 90% chance of acceptable weather conditions; Low risk of high winds; Low risk of adverse conditions for booster recovery

BOOSTER RECOVERY: “A Shortfall of Gravitas” drone ship east of Charleston, SC

LAUNCH AZIMUTH: Northeast

TARGET ORBIT: 144 by 209 miles (232 by 337 kilometers), 53.2 degree incline

LAUNCH TIMETABLE:

  • T+00:00: Takeoff
  • T+01:12: Maximum air pressure (Max-Q)
  • T+02:27: First stage main engine shutdown (MECO)
  • T+02:30: Floor separation
  • T+02:37: Second stage engine ignition
  • T+02:42: Fairing jettison
  • T+06:47: First stage inlet combustion ignition (three engines)
  • T+07:07: First floor inlet burn shutdown
  • T+08:24: First stage landing burn ignition (one engine)
  • T+08:35: First stage landing
  • T+08:45: Second stage motor shutdown (SECO 1)
  • T+15:26: Separation of Starlink satellites

MISSION STATS:

  • 158th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
  • 166th launch of the Falcon family of rockets since 2006
  • 13th launch of the Falcon 9 B1060 booster
  • Launch of the 138th Falcon 9 from the Space Coast of Florida
  • SpaceX’s 50th launch from pad 39A
  • 144th total launch from pad 39A
  • 100th flight of a repurposed Falcon 9 booster
  • 48th dedicated launch of Falcon 9 with Starlink satellites
  • 24th Falcon 9 launch of 2022
  • 24th launch by SpaceX in 2022
  • 25th orbital launch attempt based at Cape Canaveral in 2022

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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