Today, January 20, SpaceX launched the seventeenth Starlink mission as part of its plan to deploy a constellation of over 4,400 internet-beaming satellites to offer high-speed broadband internet service globally. This morning, at 8:02 a.m. EST a seven-times-flown Falcon 9 rocket lifted off on a record-breaking eighth flight from Launch Complex-39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying a fleet of 60 Starlink satellites to orbit.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/zdQNxSv6VC— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 20, 2021
It is the first time SpaceX reuses a Falcon 9 fist-stage booster eight times. Engineers aim to accomplish ten reflights, today they are closer to reaching their goal. The flight-proven booster identified as B1051-8 previously launched seven missions: four other Starlink missions, the uncrewed Crew Dragon Demo-1 mission to the International Space Station in March 2019, the RADARSAT launch in June 2019, and most recently B1051 supported the launch of SXM-7 for SiriusXM satellite radio station service, deployed on December 13, 2020. Today’s liftoff marked the shortest turnaround time of a booster to date at 38 days.
Approximately nine minutes after propelling the payload to orbit, the B1051-8 first-stage booster returned from space, it conducted a propulsive landing on the ‘Just Read The Instructions’ autonomous droneship situated around 633-kilometers downrange Florida’s Coast. Its landing marked SpaceX’s 72 landing of an orbital-class rocket booster and the 51 reuse of a booster – an incredible one-of-a-kind record no other aerospace company has accomplished.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship! pic.twitter.com/3nh3jongIY— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 20, 2021
At around 1-hour after liftoff, Falcon 9’s second-stage deployed the fleet of 60 Starlink satellites. With today’s deployment SpaceX reached a new milestone – operating over 1,000 satellites – the world’s largest broadband constellation. It is unclear how many of these satellites are operational, overall, the company has deployed around 1,013 internet-beaming satellites into low Earth orbit, excluding two prototypes. SpaceX already started to provide Starlink Beta internet service to select customers based on location. The satellite constellation is capable of serving those who live at high-latitudes. SpaceX representatives shared they are currently providing service to customers in northern United States, Canada, and United Kingdom. As more satellites are deployed, the network will increase capability to serve more customers.
Deployment of 60 Starlink satellites confirmed pic.twitter.com/XrHInb3aYT— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 20, 2021
In 2021 SpaceX aims to speed up Starlink satellites’ deployment to offer internet service globally. Starlink customers will be supporting SpaceX’s ultimate mission to make life multiplanetary. Starlink revenue could further fund the development of a fleet of Starships for astronauts to build a base on the Moon and a sustainable colony on Mars. You can sign-up to receive updates about when SpaceX’s broadband service will be available in your area via Starlink.com.
All Images Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.