SpaceX launched another fleet of 49 Starlink satellites to expand internet coverage on January 31. During the mission, D-Orbit’s ION SCV009 ‘Eclectic Elena’ orbital transfer vehicle (OTV) hitched-a-ride to orbit atop the Falcon 9 rocket. D-Orbit is an Italian space logistics and transportation company that provides a cost-effective ride to host small payloads in space. The Eclectic Elena OTV is carrying multiple payloads, the most interesting is a memorial payload by StardustMe which consists of “a batch of aluminum machined capsules, each carrying a gram of human cremated ashes, contained in an additive-manufactured frame and enclosure,” shared D-Orbit in a press release. “The assembly, permanently fixed to the main core of ION, will eventually re-enter the atmosphere with the host vehicle during decommissioning, providing an ultimate form of space burial.” StardustMe is a company that provides space memorial service flights headquartered in New Zealand. The mission lifted off atop a previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket at 8:15 a.m. PT from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/tXFGd8yOgS— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 31, 2023
Approximately 8-minutes and 45 seconds after liftoff, the seven-times-flown Falcon 9 first-stage booster returned from space with a propulsive landing on the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ autonomous droneship. It marked SpaceX’s 168 landing of an orbital-class rocket and the 141 time it reused one. The booster that completed this mission is identified as B1071-7, it previously launched: The NROL-87 and NROL-85 missions for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, the SARah-1 mission, NASA’s Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) spacecraft, and now three Starlink missions.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship pic.twitter.com/W6QaH6ZdC1— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 31, 2023
Around 57-minutes after liftoff, D-Orbit’s ION SCV009 ‘Eclectic Elena’ orbital transfer vehicle was successfully deployed into mid-inclination orbit at a 340-kilometer altitude and 70 degree inclination. It features small satellite dispensers that carry four payloads for third-party customers. D-Orbit will release the small satellites individually at different orbital parameters. “The rideshare hosts payloads from the Munich-based company HPS, U.S. company EBAD, the Swiss institute EPFL and the New Zealand company StardustMe," shared SpaceX quality system engineering manager Kate Tice during the live broadcast.
The 49 Starlink satellites were deployed around 58-minutes after liftoff. –“Another batch of Starlinks in orbit. These will mostly support high latitude connectivity,” shared SpaceX founder Elon Musk via Twitter. The fleet of 49 internet-beaming satellites are part of Starlink Group 2-6 which is a designation of where the satellites will operate, this batch is part of orbital Shell 2 which will be comprised of a total of 720 satellites that will orbit Earth at an altitude of 570 kilometers with an inclination of 70 degrees to the equator. The satellites opened their single solar power arrays and will use their onboard thrusters to propel into the operational altitude in the coming days. Now, SpaceX operates around 3,530 Starlink satellites in Low Earth Orbit that provide internet to over one million customers globally.
Another batch of Starlinks in orbit. These will mostly support high latitude connectivity. https://t.co/bjuLLuQtLT— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 31, 2023
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Featured Image Source: SpaceX Live Broadcast
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.