SpaceX is working towards completing the deployment of the Starlink broadband constellation made up of at least 12,000 internet-beaming satellites. The company launches satellites on a weekly basis to rapidly expand internet coverage globally. Starlink has demonstrated reliability in disaster-struck regions, like in Ukraine amid the war with Russia and in the Kingdom of Tonga after a Volcanic eruption destroyed the undersea fiber optic cable connecting the Islands with the world wide web. The company’s ultimate goal is to enable high-speed internet on a global scale, even in places where communication infrastructures are nonexistent.
Today, April 29, a flight-proven Falcon 9 rocket launched SpaceX’s 42nd operational Starlink mission. The previously-flown rocket lifted off at 5:27 p.m. ET from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, propelling a total of 53 Starlink satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). It was the sixth flight for the Falcon 9 first-stage booster, identified as B1062-6, which previously launched the U.S. Air Force GPS III Space Vehicle 04, GPS III Space Vehicle 05, SpaceX’s all-civilian Inspiration4 mission, and now two Starlink missions. Most recently, the same booster launched Axiom’s all-private AX-1 mission to the International Space Station 21 days ago, marking SpaceX’s quickest rocket reuse turnaround to date!
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/zz7IC1FeWu— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 29, 2022
Approximately eight-and-a-half-minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9 booster returned from space, it landed on the ‘Just Read the Instructions’ autonomous droneship in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. It is SpaceX’s 116th landing of an orbital-class rocket. SpaceX is the only company in the world with an incredible rocket recovery record. To date, the company has launched 154 missions and reused boosters 93 times.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship – completing this booster’s second flight in 21 days pic.twitter.com/8jreRAApsX— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 29, 2022
Falcon 9’s upper-stage released the 53 Starlink Group 4-16 satellites to orbit around 1-hour after lift off, boosting the total number of Starlink satellites launched to 2,441. SpaceX is working to deploy Phase 1 of the Starlink constellation that consists of launching a total of 4,408 Starlink satellites into 5 orbital ‘shells’ with different parameters in LEO. The satellites in Group 4-14 are the 12th batch to operate in the constellation’s Shell 4. The fourth shell consists of arranging 1,584 satellites into 72 orbital planes with 22 satellites in each plane operating at an equatorial inclination of 53.2° degrees and altitude of 540-kilometers (km). So far, SpaceX has launched 13 missions into Shell 4, around 30 launches will be required to complete the orbital shell. See Starlink Phase 1 orbital parameter data in the table below. For more information about the Starlink internet service visit SpaceX’s official website Starlink.com.
Deployment of 53 Starlink satellites confirmed— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 29, 2022
Featured Image Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
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.