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SpaceX is scheduled to launch its eleventh fleet of Starlink satellites Tuesday morning. A five-times-flown Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to liftoff at 10:31 a.m. EDT. from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The United States Space Force 45th Weather Squadron forecasts 70% favorable conditions for tomorrow, August 18.
Falcon 9’s booster supporting this mission previously launched Telstar 18 VANTAGE, Iridium-8, and three separate Starlink flights pic.twitter.com/Dwc7EXFiiL— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 17, 2020
Tomorrow’s mission will mark the first time SpaceX reuses a Falcon 9 first-stage booster for the 6th time. “Falcon 9’s booster supporting this mission previously launched Telstar 18 VANTAGE, Iridium-8, and three separate Starlink flights,” SpaceX announced. Engineers will attempt to recover the rocket’s first-stage [B1049] again. About nine minutes after liftoff, the booster will conduct its 6th vertical landing on the Of Course I Still Love You autonomous drone ship that is waiting in the Atlantic Ocean about 628-kilometers downrange. SpaceX will also attempt to recover the rocket’s payload fairing halves. Two twin ships called ‘GO Ms. Tree’ and ‘GO Ms. Chief,' are equipped with a large net that will aim to catch the fairings as they fall from space and conduct a parachute-assisted landing. Recovering rocket parts to reuse significantly reduces the cost of spaceflight.
SpaceX will Reuse a Falcon 9 booster for the Sixth time on upcoming Starlink mission— Tesmanian.com (@Tesmanian_com) August 17, 2020
Falcon 9 will deploy a fleet of 58 internet-beaming Starlink satellites and a trio of Planet Labs SkySats. Planet Labs booked a ride under SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Program which offers flights for a lower cost when sharing payload fairing. The SkySats are Earth-imaging satellites that take high-resolution photographs of Earth’s surface. The deployment will enable Planet to offer better quality images of Earth to compete in the national security market. [Read more about Planet Labs SkySats.]
It’s almost time for SkySats 19-21 to join Planet’s constellation 🛰️ Following our previous successful SkySat launch, three more will fly on @SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket soon. Learn how these high-resolution sats will compliment our fleet already in orbit: https://t.co/EHMoNIka20 pic.twitter.com/uZU4lftD2f— Planet (@planetlabs) August 14, 2020
Upon success of the mission, SpaceX will have about 648 Starlink satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The aerospace company already possesses the largest LEO broadband constellation in the world. The Starlink network will consist of 12,000 satellites beaming internet globally. SpaceX’s primary focus is to provide connectivity to rural areas on Earth, where internet is nonexistent, unreliable, or too expensive to set up. Service will initially be offered to northern areas of the United States and Canada before the year ends. SpaceX has invested over $70 million to produce thousands of Starlink dish terminals customers will use to connect to the internet. The Federal Communications Commission already approved the operation of 1 million user terminals in the United States. SpaceX employees are currently private beta testing the network at home. The company plans to also invite the public to beta test the network soon. You can sign up for updates via Starlink.com.
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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.