SpaceX is ready to launch another Starlink mission, it will be the eighth satellite deployment in less than eight weeks. The company has a record-breaking launch manifest this year, mostly consisting of building its internet network to provide ‘near-global’ internet coverage before 2021 ends. SpaceX is already accepting service pre-orders via Starlink.com. SpaceX’s next Starlink mission will complete the broadband constellation’s first orbital shell. Phase 1 of the satellite network consists of launching around 4,408 satellites to orbit in 5 orbital shells, as listed in the graph below.
|Phase 1 Shells||Inclination Degree||Orbital Altitude In Kilometers||Number of Starlink Satellites Per Shell|
|Shell 1||53.0||550 km||1,584|
|Shell 2||53.2||540 km||1,584|
|Shell 3||70.0||570 km||720|
|Shell 4||97.6||560 km||348|
|Shell 5||97.6||560 km||172|
SpaceX is currently working on Shell 1, which consists of 1,584 Starlink satellites operating at 53 degrees in 72 orbital planes, with 22 satellites operating in each plane at a 550-kilometer altitude in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). This first shell will provide broadband coverage to around 80% of our planet’s surface. SpaceX founder Elon Musk said that the company will achieve coverage of “most of Earth by end of year, all by next year, then it’s about densifying coverage,” he stated.
To date, SpaceX has deployed a total of 1,677 satellites of which around 1,604 are still in orbit and out of those – 1,574 are operational, according to data by Center for Astrophysics astronomer Jonathan McDowell, who has closely monitored the constellation. SpaceX’s upcoming 29th Starlink mission will add 60 satellites to the constellation, marking the completion of the first orbital shell. Shell 1 satellites will finish rising into their operational altitude in LEO by the end of the year.
A previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket is ready to launch the 29th Starlink mission this week. –“Targeting Wednesday, May 26 at 2:59 p.m. EDT for launch of the next Starlink mission from Florida,” the company announced. The rocket conducting this mission is identified as B1063-2, it previously launched NASA’s Sentinel-6A mission. Now, the booster will liftoff a second time to launch the fleet of 60 satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. If the mission gets delayed tomorrow, a backup launch opportunity is available on Thursday, May 27 at 2:38 p.m. EDT. You can watch the 29th Starlink Mission in the video below 10-minutes before liftoff, courtesy of SpaceX. Author's note: Thanks for supporting TESMANIAN! Twitter: Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
WATCH IT LIVE!
Featured Image Source: Getty Images
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.