SpaceX Falcon 9 Deploys 53 Next-Generation Starlink Satellites Into A New Orbital Shell

Evelyn Arevalo by Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo November 13, 2021

SpaceX Falcon 9 Deploys 53 Next-Generation Starlink Satellites Into A New Orbital Shell

This morning, SpaceX deployed 53 next-generation Starlink satellites into a new orbital shell. The company's plan for the broadband constellation consists of deploying over 12,000 internet-beaming satellites into Low Earth Orbit (LEO). During Phase 1 SpaceX plans to launch satellites into five orbital shells, which are the ‘roads’ where fleets of Starlink satellites operate in a fixed circular orbit at a specific altitude. The company is currently working on filling out Shell 2 and Shell 4. Today’s mission is called Starlink Group 4-1; SpaceX deployed the first fleet of satellites into Shell 4 which will have 1,584 satellites divided into 72 orbital planes with 22 satellites in each plane operating at an inclination of 53.2° and altitude of 540-kilometers. 

An eight-times-flown Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 7:19 a.m. EST from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex-40 (SLC-40), carrying 53 upgraded satellites into LEO. The constellation size now increased to around 1,844 satellites. Soon after deploying the payload to orbit, the previously-flown first-stage booster returned from space for the ninth time, it landed on the ‘Just Read The Instructions’ (JRTI) autonomous droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean off Florida’s Coast – marking the 94th landing of an orbital-class rocket. It was the company’s 25th launch of 2022 and the 129 orbital flight of a Falcon 9. SpaceX aims to reuse Falcon 9 boosters at least 10 times. The booster flown this morning is identified as B1058-9, it previously launched: the company’s first crewed mission, Demo-2; the ANASIS-II satellite for South Korea, the Transporter-1 rideshare mission, and SpaceX’s 21st Commercial Resupply Services mission to ISS, and now five Starlink missions. 

 

The next-generation satellites that were deployed during the Starlink Group 4-1 mission are all equipped with inter-satellite communication laser links, which enable the satellites to communicate with each other to transfer data faster without the need to directly connect to data ground stations on Earth. The laser links will enable SpaceX to provide low-latency, high-speed broadband internet because light travels faster in the vacuum of space than through fiber-optic cables used by traditional internet infrastructures. In the weeks ahead, the 53 satellites will use their onboard thrusters to climb into their operational orbit of around 540-kilometers above our planet. These satellites are expected to start beaming internet to Starlink customers early next year. The company is primarily focused on connecting rural and remote areas around the world to high-speed internet. This week SpaceX released a new Starlink antenna, read more in the previous TESMANIAN article, linked below. Visit Starlink.com to know if Starlink internet service is available in your region. 

 

Featured Image Source: SpaceX





Previous  / Next