SpaceX prepares to launch more Starlink internet satellites next week
November 10, 2019
SpaceX is targeting to launch Starlink internet satellites into low Earth orbit on Monday, November 11. at around 10 a.m. Eastern time. From the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 40 in Florida. The backup launch date is Tuesday, November 12. 9:34 a.m. EST.
Starlink vertical on the pad pic.twitter.com/WuiB1piKcK— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 11, 2019
On this mission, the second batch of 60 Starlink satellites will be launched a top a pre-flown Falcon 9 rocket, it's their heaviest payload to date.
The first successful launch of the first 60 test satellites to orbit on a Falcon 9 was on May 23, 2019. This collection of satellites will be launched as part of Phase 1 of SpaceX’s Starlink deployment plan, consisting of 1,584 satellites.
“SpaceX designed Starlink to connect end users with low-latency, high-bandwidth broadband services by providing continual coverage around the world using a network of thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit.”
All satellites will make up part of a constellation that will have over 12,000 satellites beaming high speed internet connection to Earth. Elon Musk, the CEO, said SpaceX will need at least 400 Starlink satellites in orbit for "minor" broadband coverage, and 800 satellites aloft for "moderate" coverage. For this launch, the 60 satellites will deploy 280km in space into orbit.
The Starlink satellites will deploy at an altitude of 280 km. Prior to orbit raise, SpaceX engineers will conduct data reviews to ensure all Starlink satellites are operating as intended. Once the checkouts are complete, the satellites will then use their onboard ion thrusters to move into their intended orbits.
Besides aiming to successfully deploy Starlink satellites, they plan to achieve many other things for this upcoming rocket launch.
Team is go for launch of 60 Starlink sats tomorrow—heaviest payload to date, first re-flight of a fairing, and first Falcon 9 to fly a fourth mission. Watching 1 sat that may not orbit raise; if not, 100% of its components will quickly burn up in Earth’s atmosphere pic.twitter.com/OrI8L0ntFK— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 11, 2019
SpaceX aims to:
Recover Falcon 9 first stage
SpaceX has been reusing their Falcon 9 rocket boosters for a few years now, but this launch is important for SpaceX because it will be the first time that they will attempt to fly the same Falcon 9 rocket first stage four times.
This Falcon 9 stage successfully flew on the following missions:
• SAOCOM 1-A Mission
Date: October 8, 2018
•Iridium 7 Mission
Date: July 25, 2019
•Nusantara Satu and Beresheet spacecraft Mission
Date: February 22, 2019
The company will preform their signature feat of returning the Falcon 9 from space to land vertically on the Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY) autonomous droneship, stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
OCISLY droneship has been moved into position in preparation for Monday's launch.
OCISLY UPDATE 2: Tug Hawk tows OCISLY out of Port Canaveral toward her next mission this morning. #SpaceX Starlink mission slated for early next wk willl return the F9 booster back on OCISLY for a return back to Port Canaveral#NASA #SpaceXFleet #Space #ElonMusk #mars #Science pic.twitter.com/AhIZWO1Fgw— Greg Scott 🚀🚢😎 (@GregScott_photo) November 7, 2019
Recover the Payload Fairing
Source: Elon Musk
SpaceX will also attempt to reuse a payload fairing for the first time. The fairing, also known as the nose cone, which protects the payloads a top of the Falcon 9 rocket.
Catching fairings and maintaining them dry is crucial because saltwater is very corrosive, Musk has said.
SpaceX equips each fairing half with small steering thrusters and parachutes to 'steer' each fairing onto a set of catch boats.
They successfully recovered both halves of the payload fairing from the Atlantic Ocean after the Falcon Heavy launch of the Arabsat-6A mission in April 2019.
The fairing supporting this mission previously flew on Falcon Heavy’s Arabsat-6A mission pic.twitter.com/iTgqqtl1pW— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 5, 2019
The recovered fairings halves have been refurbished and will now be reused on the upcoming Starlink mission. SpaceX will attempt to recover both fairing halves again.
The recovery ships are named Ms.Tree and Ms.Chief. These ships have a large net to catch the fairing halves as they fall from the sky. Both ships are undergoing preparations ahead of the launch.
Launch Day Schedule
Source: SpaceX Press Kit
Watch the Launch!
Live stream will go live
about 15 minutes before liftoff
If every aspect of this launch is successful, it will mark several important milestones --the beginning of Starlink's internet constellation and paving the way towards full rocketry reusability.
Best of luck to SpaceX! 🍀
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.