SpaceX launched the 25th Starlink mission on Wednesday, April 28. A previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 11:45 p.m. EDT for the seventh time to deploy a batch of 60 Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit. The booster ignited the midnight sky with its nine powerful Merlin 1D engines as it propelled to space. SpaceX is a leader in the aerospace industry, it is the only company in the world capable of reusing orbital-class rockets multiple times. Engineers aim to reuse Falcon 9’s first-stage booster at least 10 times. Rocket reusability enables SpaceX to save on manufacturing costs.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/D5qDAH37gV— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 29, 2021
The booster that launched tonight is identified as production number B1060-7, it previously launched the U.S. Space Force’s GPS III Space Vehicle 03 satellite, the Turksat 5A satellite for the Republic of Turkey, and four other Starlink missions. Approximately nine minutes after deploying the payload to orbit, the Falcon 9’s first-stage returned from space, it landed for the seventh time on the ‘Just Read the Instructions’ autonomous droneship, situated approximately 630-kilometers downrange in the Atlantic Ocean. The successful rocket recovery marked SpaceX’s 81st landing of an orbital-class rocket.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship, completing this booster’s seventh launch and landing pic.twitter.com/uir08tQmMU— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 29, 2021
Approximately 45-minutes after liftoff, Falcon 9’s upper stage released the fleet of 60 internet-beaming Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit – increasing the constellation’s size to around 1,500 satellites, video below. SpaceX already operates the world’s largest broadband constellation. Overall, the Starlink network will have over 4,400 satellites beaming internet connection globally. The batch of 60 satellites deployed Wednesday night were packed in a tight configuration stacked one above the other to fit inside Falcon 9’s payload fairing. Each satellite will unfurl their single solar panel in the next few hours and separate. In the weeks ahead, each satellite will utilize their krypton-powered ion thrusters to move into an operational altitude of 550-kilometers above Earth. SpaceX is already offering Starlink Beta service in the United States and abroad to a limited amount of customers per region. By the end of this year, SpaceX officials say the network will provide near-global broadband coverage. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said SpaceX will achieve “full connectivity globally” after about 28 Starlink launches. The company is accepting service pre-orders via Starlink.com.
Deployment of 60 Starlink satellites confirmed pic.twitter.com/xiqbY1Bviw— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 29, 2021
Featured Image Source: SpaceX Livestream
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.