SpaceX launched another batch of Starlink satellites to orbit from California after eight delays. The mission was delayed due to unfavorable weather conditions along the West Coast, including “15+ foot waves in the Pacific Ocean, as well as high winds across Central and Southern California,” shared SpaceX on January 13. Weather in the ocean must be favorable in order to recover the first-stage booster to reuse. The mission was also delayed for “pre-launch checkouts” of the rocket. SpaceX opted to use a brand new booster for this mission. Usually, the company reserves new boosters for its customers. The Falcon 9 finally lifted off on Thursday, January 19, at 7:43 a.m. PT from Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Space Force Base, carrying 51 Starlink Group 2-4 satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/71UKeM8LRY— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 19, 2023
Approximately 8-minutes after liftoff, the new Falcon 9 first-stage booster (identified as B1075-1) returned from space with a propulsive landing on the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ droneship which was stationed in the Pacific Ocean around 673 kilometers downrange. It marked SpaceX’s 166 landing of an orbital-class rocket. Recovering boosters enables the company to reuse in order to perform frequent cost-effective spaceflights. SpaceX is the only company in the world capable of such rocket reusability.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship pic.twitter.com/2EFQLkXX0k— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 19, 2023
This mission is referred to by the company as ‘Starlink Group 2-4’, it is the second launch of 51 satellites into the second orbital shell. SpaceX is arranging Phase 1 of the Starlink constellation into five orbital shells with different parameters. Orbital Shell 2 will consist of a total of 720 satellites divided into groups of 20 across 36 orbital planes in a 70° 570 kilometer orbit. Shell 2 will enable SpaceX to have Starlink coverage in around 94% of Earth. The 51 internet-beaming satellites were deployed by Falcon 9’s upper-stage nearly 30 minutes after liftoff. With this newly deployed batch, SpaceX now operates approximately 3,425 Starlink satellites in LEO which provide high-speed internet to over one million subscribers living across all seven continents. SpaceX has approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch 7,500 next-generation Starlink satellites in the coming years. Visit SpaceX's official website Starlink.com for more information.
Deployment of 51 Starlink satellites confirmed— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 19, 2023
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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.