SpaceX plans to launch back-to-back Starlink missions this week. The launches would add 120 internet-beaming satellites to the constellation that aims to provide high-speed broadband service globally. Starlink internet customers support SpaceX’s ultimate mission to make life multiplanetary. Long-term, the network could provide SpaceX with additional funding to build a fleet of Starships that will be used to build the first human colony on Mars. The Starlink constellation currently has approximately one thousand satellites in low Earth orbit where they currently beam internet connection to customers living in northern United States, Canada, and United Kingdom. As more satellites are deployed, SpaceX will expand service across continents. You can sign-up via Starlink.com to receive updates about when service will be available in your area.
SpaceX announced it aims to conduct a pair of Starlink missions a few hours apart from Space Launch Complex-40 (SLC-40) and Launch Complex-39A (LC-39A) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “Targeting two Falcon 9 launches of Starlink satellites on Thursday, February 4 [...] at 1:19 a.m. EST from SLC-40, followed by another Falcon 9 launch ~4 hours later at 5:36 a.m. EST from LC-39A,” the company said. This afternoon SpaceX provided an update –“To allow additional time for pre-launch checks, now targeting Friday, February 5 at 5:14 a.m. EST for launch of Starlink from LC-39A.”
Falcon 9 and Starlink continue to look good for launch from SLC-40 on February 4 at 1:19 a.m. EST. Weather forecast is more than 90% favorable, and the webcast will go live ~15 minutes before liftoff → https://t.co/bJFjLCzWdK— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 4, 2021
Starlink satellites are launched atop previously-flown Falcon 9 rockets. Since the satellites are flat, all 60 are packed in a tight configuration inside the rocket’s fairing, as pictured below. Thursday’s launch will be conducted by a first-stage rocket booster identified as B1060-5. It previously supported four missions: the United States Space Force GPS III Space Vehicle 03 mission on June 30, 2020; two Starlink satellite deployments in 2020; and the Türksat-5A mission in January. Now, booster B1060-5 will liftoff for the fifth time from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Launch Complex-40, carrying the Starlink satellites to orbit.
All Images Source: SpaceX
Friday’s Starlink mission will liftoff from Launch Pad-39A, carrying 60 additional satellites. The booster that will conduct the mission is a flight-proven booster identified as B1049-8 that has flown 7 times. Its first flight was launching the Telstar 18V satellite on September 10, 2018. The booster’s second flight was the Iridium NEXT-8 mission on January 11, 2019. B1049 also launched five Starlink missions. The upcoming flight will be the second time SpaceX reuses a particular first stage booster 8 times! SpaceX engineers are getting closer to their goal to accomplish reusing a rocket 10 times to significantly reduce the cost of spaceflight. To recover the boosters SpaceX will use its twin droneships, ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ and ‘Just Read the Instructions.’ When both boosters are recovered it will mark SpaceX’s 74th and 75th landings of orbital-class rocket boosters since the company landed its first booster in 2015. You can watch SpaceX launch Starlink satellites at 1:00 a.m. EST on Thursday in the video below [all dates are subject to change].
WATCH IT LIVE!
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.