On Friday, May 6th, SpaceX performed the 45th Starlink mission since 2019. A flight-proven Falcon 9 lifted off a 12th time to launch another batch of Starlink satellites to orbit. The previously-flown rocket booster launched from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 5:42 a.m. ET, carrying a total of 53 internet-beaming satellites.
SpaceX is currently the world's only aerospace company capable of launching and recovering orbital-class rockets for reuse. It marked the 12th flight for the Falcon 9 first-stage booster identified as B1058-12 which previously launched SpaceX’s first crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS) Demo-2, the South Korean ANASIS-II satellite, NASA’s CRS-21 cargo mission to ISS, SpaceX’s rideshare Transporter-1 and Transporter-3 missions, as well as seven Starlink missions. It is the second time SpaceX launches a Falcon 9 first-stage booster a record-breaking 12th time.
Approximately 8-minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9 booster returned from space, it landed on the ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas’ autonomous droneship at the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. It is SpaceX’s 111th landing of a Falcon 9 first-stage booster, according to the Live broadcast launch commentator. SpaceX’s website says it is the 118th overall landing, including the Falcon Heavy cores. To date, the company has launched 156 missions and reused boosters 96 times.
The Falcon 9’s upper-stage released the 53 Starlink Group 4-17 satellites to orbit around 1-hour after lift off, boosting the total number of Starlink satellites launched to 2,494, however, only 2,249 remain in orbit according to astronomer data. 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 Low Earth Orbit. The 53 Starlink Group 4-17 satellites mark the 14th launch to Shell 4; roughly 30 launches will be required to fill out this shell. 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). See Starlink Phase 1 orbital parameter data in the table below.
SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off a 12th time to deploy another batch of Starlink satellites to orbit
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.