SpaceX Test Fires Falcon 9 Rocket to Launch Starlink Satellites Soon
November 5, 2019 •
SpaceX is targeting to launch its second batch of 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.
It will be SpaceX's 11th launch of this year.
To prepare for this upcoming rocket launch, SpaceX teams conducted a static fire test today (November 5) of the nine Merlin 1D engines that power the Falcon 9 rocket.
Static fire tests are a routine process on every launch to ensure that the crafts engines can operate smoothly and see if the vehicles hardware is working properly before a launch. During a static fire, the engines are fired briefly, then turned off. Engineers review the data from the test to determine whether or not to proceed with launch preparations. This Falcon 9 is ready to fly.
Static fire test of Falcon 9 complete—targeting 11/11 for launch of 60 Starlink satellites from Pad 40 in Florida— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 5, 2019
On this mission, the second batch of 60 Starlink satellites will be launched. The first successful launch of the first 60 test satellites to orbit on a Falcon 9 was on May 23, 2019. All satellites will make up part of a constellation that will have thousands of satellites to beam high speed internet connection to Earth --possibly Mars one day.
Image: First 60 Starlink Satellites. May 2019.
This collection of satellites will be launched as part of the first phase of SpaceX’s Starlink deployment plan, consisting of 1,584 satellites placed in 550 kilometer orbits around Earth at 53 degrees inclination. It will take up to 24 Falcon 9 launches with 60 Starlink satellites to complete the first phase of Starlink deployment.
If each deployment is successful, Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, envisions a future where Starlink internet can help fund future space missions, like building a permanent base on the Moon's surface and colonizing Mars.
Source: SpaceX / Falcon 9 Rocket Booster flown three times.
The upcoming launch is also important for SpaceX because it will be the first time that they will attempt to fly the same Falcon 9 rocket first stage (Core 1048) four times.
This Falcon 9 stage flew on the SAOCOM 1-A Mission (October 8, 2018), and on the Iridium 7 Mission (July 25, 2019), also on the Nusantara Satu and Beresheet spacecraft Mission (February 22, 2019).
The fairing supporting this mission previously flew on Falcon Heavy’s Arabsat-6A mission pic.twitter.com/iTgqqtl1pW— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 5, 2019
SpaceX will also attempt to reuse a payload fairing for the first time. The fairing protects the payloads a top of the Falcon 9 rocket.
They recovered both halves of the payload fairing from the Atlantic Ocean after the Falcon Heavy launch of the Arabsat-6A mission in April 2019.
Source: Elon Musk
Rocket fairing falling from space (higher res) pic.twitter.com/sa1j10qAWi— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2019
The company has a set of recovery ships named Ms. Tree and Ms Chief. These ships have a large net to catch the fairing halves as they fall from the sky. The recovered fairings halves have been refurbished and will now be reused on the upcoming Starlink mission. They will attempt to recover both fairing halves again, and 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.
If everything goes smoothly, this launch will mark several milestones. One being the dawn of Starlink's internet age, the other, getting closer towards full spacecraft reusability.
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.