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Four-times-flown Falcon 9 rocket will deploy Starlink and BlackSky satellites tomorrow

by Evelyn Arevalo June 25, 2020

Four-times-flown Falcon 9 rocket will deploy Starlink and BlackSky satellites tomorrow

Featured Image Source: SpaceX

SpaceX is in the process of building its satellite broadband internet network. The aerospace company aims to fund its space program by offering Starlink internet globally. As of today, it has deployed 540 internet-beaming Starlink satellites into Low Earth Orbit. Each deployment of 60 satellites will be capable of supporting 40,000 customers streaming high-definition content at once. The Starlink network will initially be composed of 12,000 satellites.

SpaceX is ready to deploy another batch of Starlink satellites on June 26. A previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket will liftoff on Friday from Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at around 4:18 p.m. EDT. – It will be the tenth Starlink-9 mission that will deploy 57 satellites into an elliptical orbit. A pair of Black Sky satellites will hitch a ride on tomorrow’s mission.

“Targeting tomorrow, June 26 at 4:18 p.m. EDT for launch of 57 Starlink satellites and 2 spacecraft from Spaceflight Inc.’s customer BlackSky,” SpaceX announced.

 

 

Spaceflight Inc. selected SpaceX as a launch provider to deploy two BlackSky Earth-imaging satellites, under a SpaceX SmallSat Rideshare Program contract. The program allows companies to launch small satellites to space destinations for as low as $1 million by sharing spacecraft with a larger payload during a mission. Booking an entire rocket flight can cost up to $60 million. The Rideshare program gives companies a much affordable option to launch small payloads into orbit.“By offering a variety of launch options, we can better meet our customer’s specific launch needs and offer increased launch flexibility. This agreement with SpaceX will be particularly attractive to SmallSat customers,” the President and CEO at Spaceflight Inc. Curt Blake said:

“SpaceX’s consistent launch schedule coupled with our deep expertise in mission management and integration services offers Rideshare options with greater reliability. This agreement will allow us to package multiple payloads onto a single port to significantly reduce the cost per spacecraft for the end-customer.”

Regarding their partnership, SpaceX Vice President of Commercial Sales Tom Ochinero stated –“Spaceflight is one of the most experienced companies offering mission management and integration services for SmallSat operators, and we are proud to offer their customers the best launch solution on the market. Together, Spaceflight and SpaceX are providing small satellite operators access to space in the most reliable and cost-effective way possible.”

It will be SpaceX’s second mission under the Rideshare program. The first mission was conducted earlier this month.

The previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket that will carry the satellites into orbit, will return from space about 9 minutes after liftoff, to conduct a vertical landing on the Of Course I Still Love You autonomous droneship, that will be waiting approximately 632 kilometers downrange in the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX is the only company in the world capable of returning orbital-class rocket boosters from space in order to be reused. This amazing feat significantly reduces the cost of spaceflight, which enables SpaceX to offer much affordable rideshare prices to customers. SpaceX’s goal is to fly a particular first-stage rocket booster 10 times. So far, the company has only re-flown a booster 5 times. Tomorrow’s mission, will utilize a first-stage booster that was flown 4 times before, it will fly a fifth time. The booster previously conducted: SpaceX’s Demo-1 mission, which launched Crew Dragon to the International Space Station for the first time; RADARSAT mission, which deployed satellites; also, two previous Starlink missions, Starlink-3 and Starlink-6.

About 15 to 25 minutes after liftoff the rocket’s second-stage payload fairing will deploy the BlackSky satellite duo. Then, the 57 Starlink satellites will be deployed. This batch of Starlink satellites will be deployed into three orbital planes around Earth. In the weeks ahead, the satellites will utilize their onboard krypton-powered ion thrusters to raise their orbits to an operational altitude of 550-kilometers in three groups.

Tomorrow’s mission will be the third Starlink mission of the month; SpaceX is truly speeding up its satellite deployment to offer internet in portions of Canada and Northern United States before the year ends. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) already approved the operation of 1 million Starlink user terminals in the United States. SpaceX officials previously shared customers will receive internet from space via user terminals that look like a “UFO on a stick.” A resident from Wisconsin spotted SpaceX’s user terminal prototypes at a test ground base station, pictured below.  

 

 

 




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