SpaceX announced it is ready to conduct a pair of back-to-back Falcon 9 launches this week. The aerospace company shared a photograph of the two rockets are awaiting liftoff at the launch pad (pictured above). After weather-related delays, the first launch is the thirteenth Starlink mission scheduled for Thursday, October 1st. A twice flown Falcon 9 rocket will launch 60 internet-beaming Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit at 9:17 a.m. EDT. from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The historic Falcon 9’s first-stage booster, production number B1058, will launch the upcoming Starlink mission; It previously propelled Crew Dragon to orbit during SpaceX’s first crewed flight to the International Space Station on May 30th. B1058 also deployed South Korea’s ANASIS-II communications satellite on July 30th. SpaceX will attempt to recover B1058 a third time. About nine minutes after liftoff, it will conduct a landing on the autonomous 'Of Course I Still Love You' droneship, awaiting around 633-kilometers downrange in the Atlantic Ocean.
SpaceX is building the Starlink satellite constellation in low Earth orbit to deliver low-latency, broadband internet globally. There are around 708 internet-beaming satellites currently in orbit, out of the 4,409 satellites that will initially comprise the Starlink network. The company is currently assessing the satellite’s performance. Employees received early access to private beta test the network. Starlink users receive internet from space via 19-inch dish terminals and Wi-Fi router. The network has shown positive results -latency under 30 milliseconds and download speads greater than 100 megabits per second, according to company officials.
Tomorrow's launch will increase the Starlink constellation size to around 768 satellites operating at an altitude of around 550-kilometers in low Earth orbit. SpaceX plans to initiate offering internet service in portions of Northern United States and Canada once 800 satellites are in orbit to offer "moderate" coverage. At the current launch rate, SpaceX could roll-out service before this year ends.
If you would like to receive updates on Starlink service availability in your area, visit starlink.com.
Targeting Thursday, October 1 at 9:17 a.m. EDT for launch of Starlink. Due to a conflict on the Range, now targeting launch of GPS III-4 on Friday, October 2; 15-min window opens at 9:43 p.m. EDT pic.twitter.com/VVhhatjBbh— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 30, 2020
The second launch is for the United States Space Force. SpaceX will deploy the military's third-generation series Global Positioning System satellites, GPS-III. On June 30, SpaceX deployed the third GPS III Space Vehicle 03 (SV03) successfully, now the company is ready to deploy the fourth satellite, referred to as GPS III Space Vehicle 04 (SV04). A Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida carrying the satellite to orbit on Friday, October 2nd during a 15-minute window that opens at 9:43 p.m. EDT.
The $500 million GPS-III satellite is manufactured by Lockheed Martin. It is designed to upgrade the United States' GPS navigation constellation and it will operate in medium Earth orbit at an altitude of approximately 20,200 kilometers. The satellites beam GPS signals to more than four billion users that depend on the navigation signal daily; including airplanes, road vehicles, apps on your phone, bank ATMs, even weapon systems. systems.“The Global Positioning System signal and service need to be protected based on the importance of GPS to national security, civil services, and the economic benefits to the nation,” the United States Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said earlier this year.
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.