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SpaceX is set to launch another 53 Starlink internet satellites - Spaceflight Now

SpaceX is set to launch another 53 Starlink internet satellites – Spaceflight Now

Watch a replay of our live coverage of the countdown and launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Starlink mission 5-11 at 3:10 a.m. EDT (0710 UTC) on June 12 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Space Force Station Cape Canaveral, Florida. Follow us Twitter.

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SpaceX’s 40th launch of the year will send another batch of 53 Starlink internet satellites into orbit from Cape Canaveral early Monday aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.

Liftoff from Pad 40 at Space Force Station Cape Canaveral is scheduled for 3:10 a.m. EDT (0710 UTC) Monday, and forecasters are expecting good weather, with only a 10% chance weather conditions could violate any of the criteria. Falcon 9 launch.

The mission will follow a familiar path and timeline, as the Falcon 9 heads southeast from Florida’s Space Coast to put the 53 Starlink payloads into an orbit inclined 43 degrees to the equator. It will take about 65 minutes to lift off by separating the Starlink satellites, which will occur over the western Pacific Ocean.

The launch is the first of two Falcon 9 rockets scheduled to take off Monday, as SpaceX teams at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California prepare for liftoff from the Falcon 9 about 14 hours into the flight from Florida at 5:19 p.m. EDT ( 2:19). p.m. Pacific time, 2119 UTC). The launch from California will deliver a constellation of 72 small spacecraft and payload into polar orbit for a range of US and international customers on SpaceX’s eighth small-satellite flight-sharing mission.

The mission that was scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral early Monday is Starlink number 5-11 in the SpaceX launch sequence, which will bring the total number of Starlink satellites launched by SpaceX to 4,596. The Starlink network provides high-speed, low-latency connectivity for customers in the whole world. SpaceX says each Starlink launch adds more than a terabit per second of capacity to the constellation.

SpaceX currently has more than 4,200 operating Starlink satellites in space, with more than 3,500 operating spacecraft and more than 500 moving into operational orbits, According to tabular by Jonathan McDowellan expert in spaceflight activity tracking and an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

The rest of the Starlink satellites were failed prototypes or platforms that were retired from service and directed back into the atmosphere to burn up on return.

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Monday’s mission will continue to deploy SpaceX’s older-generation Starlink V1.5 satellites, following a launch earlier this year that began with putting a new generation of Starlink satellites into orbit. The new satellites, known as the Starlink V2 Mini design, are larger and provide four times the bandwidth capacity of the older design satellites.

The new Starlink V2 Minis carry upgraded phase array antennas, a more efficient electric thrust system and argon thrust. They also have two solar arrays, compared to the single expandable solar panel in each Starlink V1.5 spacecraft.

File photo of a Falcon 9 rocket on Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station prior to a previous mission. Credit: Michael Caine/Spaceflight Now/Coldlife Photography

The Starlink V1.5 satellites on Monday’s Starlink 5-11 mission are similar to the Starlink spacecraft that SpaceX has launched over the past several years, but they will head into orbit, at least in organizational terms, as part of SpaceX’s second-generation or Gen2 network.

SpaceX began launching satellites to the Gen2 network in December, starting constellations of new orbital aircraft with older-design satellites until the larger Starlink spacecraft design is ready to take over entirely.

The Starlink V2 Mini satellites that SpaceX began launching in February represent an intermediate step between the smaller Starlink V1.5 spacecraft and the larger full-size Starlink V2s, which SpaceX plans to put into orbit using the company’s new spacecraft rocket.

Federal Communications granted approval for SpaceX on December 1 to launch up to 7,500 of the planned 29,988 Starlink Gen2 constellations, which will be deployed in slightly different orbits than the original Starlink fleet. The regulatory agency has delayed a decision on the remaining proposed second-generation SpaceX satellites.

Specifically, the FCC has authorized SpaceX to launch the initial mass of 7,500 Starlink Gen2 satellites into orbits at 525, 530, and 535 kilometers, with inclinations of 53, 43, and 33 degrees, respectively, using Ku-band frequencies. and Ka-band. . Sunday’s Starlink 5-11 mission targets a 43-degree inclination orbit in the constellation Starlink Gen2.

The first-generation Starlink network architecture includes satellites flying at an altitude of a few hundred miles, orbiting at inclinations of 97.6°, 70°, 53.2°, and 53.0° to the equator. Last year, most of SpaceX’s Starlink launches launched satellites in Shell 4, at an inclination of 53.2 degrees, after the company largely completed launches in its first 53-degree inclination structure in 2021.

The FCC previously authorized SpaceX to launch and operate approximately 4,400 first-generation Ka-band and Ku-band Starlink spacecraft launched by SpaceX since 2019. SpaceX is in the final stages of filling out its first-generation Starlink network .

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The Gen2 satellites will improve Starlink’s coverage across low latitudes, and help relieve pressure on the network from increased consumer uptake. SpaceX says the network has more than 1 million active subscribers, most of whom are homes in areas where traditional fiber connectivity is unavailable, unreliable, or expensive. Users also include cruise ship companies, airlines, and military forces.

The Starlink 5-11 mission will deliver 53 Starlink internet satellites into orbit. Credit: Spaceflight Now

During the final leg of the countdown on Monday morning, the SpaceX launch team will be stationed inside the Launch Control Center south of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station to monitor the major systems on the Falcon 9 rocket and at the launch pad. SpaceX will begin loading ultra-cold condensed kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants into the Falcon 9 vehicle in T-minus 35 minutes.

Helium pressure will also flow into the rocket in the last half hour of the countdown. In the final seven minutes before liftoff, Merlin’s Falcon 9 main engines will be thermally conditioned for flight through a procedure known as a “chilldown”. The Falcon 9’s guidance and field safety systems will also be configured for launch.

After liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket will direct its 1.7 million pounds of thrust — produced by nine Merlin engines — to steer into the Southeast Atlantic. The Falcon 9 rocket will exceed the speed of sound in about one minute, then shut down its nine main engines two and a half minutes after liftoff. The booster stage will separate from the Falcon 9’s upper stage, then pulses from cool-gas control thrusters will fire and extend titanium grille fins to help guide the vehicle back into the atmosphere.

A brake burn will slow the missile as it lands on the drone ship. The reusable booster, named B1073 in SpaceX inventory, will fly on its ninth flight into space Monday.

The Falcon 9’s reusable payload supply will be discarded during the second stage burn. There is also a salvage ship on station in the Atlantic Ocean to recover the nose cone halves after they fall off under parachutes.

The first-stage landing will occur just as the Falcon 9’s second-stage engine cuts out to deliver the Starlink satellites to a primary parking orbit. The other upper stage, which burns 54 minutes into the mission, will re-orbit before separating the payload.

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The 53 Starlink spacecraft, built by SpaceX in Redmond, Washington, is expected to separate from the Falcon 9 rocket 65 minutes after liftoff.

The Falcon 9’s guidance computer aims to deploy the satellites into an orbit at an inclination of 43 degrees to the equator, at an altitude of between 185 miles and 210 miles (299 by 339 kilometers). After separating from the rocket, the 53 Starlink spacecraft will unfold the solar arrays, run them through automated activation steps, and then use their krypton-fueled ion engines to maneuver into their operational orbit 329 miles (530 kilometers) above Earth.

rocket: Falcon 9 (B1073.9)

Payload: 53 Starlink satellites (Starlink 5-11)

Launch site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Station, Florida

Lunch date: June 12, 2023

launch time: 3:10:50 a.m. EST (0710:50 UTC)

weather forecast: 90% chance of fair weather; low risk of upper level winds; Reduced risk of conditions unfavorable to an enhanced recovery

Recovery from boost: Drone vessel named “A Shortfall of Gravitas” northeast of the Bahamas


target orbit: 185 miles by 210 miles (299 kilometers by 339 kilometers), 43.0 degrees

Launch timeline:

  • T+00:00: take off
  • T+01:12: Max Air Pressure (Max-Q)
  • T+02:25: First Engine Main Cut Off (MECO) Stage
  • T+02:28: Separation phase
  • T+02:35: Second stage engine ignition (SES 1)
  • T+02:43: Quiet out
  • T+06:14: First stage entry burner ignition (three engines)
  • T+06:39: First stage entry afterburner cut off
  • T+08:02: First stage combustion ignition (single engine)
  • T+08:25: First stage landing
  • T+08:35: Second stage engine cut off (SECO 1)
  • T+54:06: Second stage engine ignition (SES 2)
  • T+54:08: Second Stage Engine Cut Off (SECO 2)
  • T+1:05:24: Starlink satellite disconnected

Mission statistics:

  • The 231st launch of the Falcon 9 since 2010
  • The 242nd launch of the Falcon family since 2006
  • Ninth launch of Falcon 9 Booster B1073
  • Flight 172 of the repurposed Falcon booster
  • SpaceX launch 195th from the Florida Space Coast
  • Falcon 9 launch #128 from pad 40
  • 183rd launch overall from plate 40
  • The 88th Falcon 9 launch is primarily for the Starlink network
  • The 37th Falcon 9 launch in 2023
  • SpaceX 40 launch in 2023
  • Launch Attempt 29 into orbit from Cape Canaveral in 2023