SpaceX is a leader in aerospace innovation, it is the only company in the world capable of recovering orbital-class Falcon 9 rockets to reuse. To date, SpaceX has launched 147 rockets, landed 109, and reflown 86 of those multiple times. The most a Falcon 9 first-stage booster has flown is 11 times. Three boosters have performed an eleventh flight as of today. On Thursday, March 3rd, a veteran Falcon 9 conducted an eleventh flight to deploy SpaceX's Starlink Group 4-9 satellites. The previously-flown first-stage booster, identified as B1060-11, lifted off at 9:25 a.m. EST from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “This was our 9th Falcon 9 launch in the first 9 weeks of 2022,” the company said. Reusing boosters enables the company to increase launch rate and conduct cost-effective spaceflights.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/59L8tqFd3B— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 3, 2022
The veteran Falcon 9 launched a total of 47 Starlink satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Approximately 9-minutes after lift off, booster B1060-11 landed on the ‘Just Read the Instructions’ autonomous droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. It marked the company’s 109th landing of an orbital-class rocket booster and the 11th flight for the first-stage booster. B1060-11 previously launched a GPS III-3 satellite for the United States Space Force in June 2020, the Turksat-5A satellite for Turkey in January 2021, SpaceX’s second rideshare mission ‘Transporter 2’ in June 2021, and a total of eight Starlink missions with today’s launch. The same booster that conducted the Starlink Group 4-9 mission also launched the previous Group 4-8 satellite launch around 43 days ago on January 19.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 3, 2022
Source: SpaceX launch broadcast
The fleet of 47 Starlink Group 4-9 satellites were released by Falcon 9’s upper-stage around one hour after liftoff. SpaceX plans to arrange Phase 1 of the broadband constellation into five orbital ‘shells’ each with different orbital parameters, details shown in the graph below. The satellites that were launched as part of Group 4-9 are the ninth fleet of satellites deployed into orbital Shell 4. The initial phase of the constellation consists of launching 4,408 Starlink satellites to provide low-latency, high-speed internet on a global scale. To date, SpaceX has launched 2,234 satellites that operate across Shell 1, Shell 2, and Shell 4. All satellites launched since November feature inter-satellite communication laser links that will enable a high-speed data transfer to users living in remote locations on Earth, even in places where communication infrastructures get destroyed or shut down.
Deployment of 47 Starlink satellites confirmed— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 3, 2022
SpaceX founder Elon Musk sent a truck filled with Starlink kits to Ukraine officials to enable first responders and emergency operation teams to maintain communication to help keep civilians safe amid the Russia invasion. “Now, you may have heard that Starlink has been activated in Ukraine to help with the internet access in that country,” SpaceX space operations engineer Siva Bharadvaj said during the launch broadcast. “A few days ago, the Ukrainian government confirmed that the Starlink kits had arrived. We’re told that they’re already in use. We couldn’t be more proud of all the teams that jumped in to make this effort happen, along with many individuals luckily was supported. Thank you, and we hope it helps.” After Thursday’s launch, Musk announced via Twitter that Ukrainians who received a Starlink dish antenna to receive internet should be cautious when using the service to not become a Russian soldier target. –“Important warning: Starlink is the only non-Russian communications system still working in some parts of Ukraine, so probability of being targeted is high. Please use with caution,” wrote Musk via Twitter. “Turn on Starlink only when needed and place antenna away as far away from people as possible. Place light camouflage over antenna to avoid visual detection,” he advised.
Important warning: Starlink is the only non-Russian communications system still working in some parts of Ukraine, so probability of being targeted is high. Please use with caution.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 3, 2022
Place light camouflage over antenna to avoid visual detection— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 3, 2022
VIDEO: STARLINK GROUP 4-9 MISSION
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.