Featured Image Source: SpaceX
SpaceX plans to deploy around 12,000 small internet-beaming Starlink satellites to offer affordable broadband internet globally. The company has already deployed 540 Starlink satellites into Low Earth Orbit. SpaceX is preparing to deploy the tenth cluster of Starlink satellites. After several delays, SpaceX is targeting Wednesday, July 8th to deploy 58 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit. This mission will also deploy a pair of hitchhiking BlackSky satellites, booked by Spaceflight Inc. under a SpaceX SmallSat Rideshare program. The program gives companies a much affordable option to launch a payload to space by sharing the rocket’s fairing.
“SpaceX’s consistent launch schedule coupled with our deep expertise in mission management and integration services offers Rideshare options with greater reliability,” the President and CEO at Spaceflight Inc. Curt Blake said, “This agreement will allow us to package multiple payloads onto a single port to significantly reduce the cost per spacecraft for the end-customer.” Regarding their partnership, SpaceX Vice President of Commercial Sales Tom Ochinero stated – “Spaceflight is one of the most experienced companies offering mission management and integration services for SmallSat operators, and we are proud to offer their customers the best launch solution on the market. Together, Spaceflight and SpaceX are providing small satellite operators access to space in the most reliable and cost-effective way possible.”
Falcon 9 is vertical on LC-39A ahead of our tenth Starlink mission, targeted for tomorrow at 11:59 a.m. EDT. Vehicle and payload look good; weather is 60% favorable → https://t.co/bJFjLCzWdK— SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 7, 2020
A four-times-flown Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to lift off at 11:59 a.m. EDT. from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Falcon 9’s first-stage rocket booster will take flight a fifth time. The previous missions it conducted are: Crew Dragon’s first demonstration mission to the International Space Station, the launch of the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, and the fourth and seventh Starlink missions.
SpaceX will attempt to recover the Falcon 9’s first-stage booster a fifth time. About 9 minutes after liftoff, the booster will conduct a fiery reentry through Earth’s atmosphere to conduct a vertical landing on the “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
“The BlackSky Global spacecraft will deploy sequentially beginning 1 hour and 1 minute after liftoff, and the Starlink satellites will deploy approximately 1 hour and 32 minutes after liftoff,” the company detailed, “Starlink satellites will be deployed in a circular orbit, as was done on the first through fourth Starlink missions.” Once deployed, the Starlink satellites will use their onboard krypton-powered ion thrusters to move into an operational orbit or around 550-kilometers above Earth’s surface.
“All Starlink satellites on this flight are equipped with a deployable visor to block sunlight from hitting the brightest spots of the spacecraft – a measure SpaceX has taken as part of our work with leading astronomical groups to mitigate satellite reflectivity,” the company announced today. The astronomer community had voiced their concerns over Starlink fleets appearing ‘too bright’ across the sky, potentially interfering with cosmic observations. SpaceX deployed an experimental Starlink satellite featuring a deployable visor a couple of months ago that significantly reduced the satellite’s reflectivity level.
You can watch the rocket launch and satellite deployment Live in the video below!