SpaceX's goal is to provide high-speed internet globally with a constellation of at least 12,000 broadband satellites. As of today, it has launched 2,600 satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and is already providing internet service to 32 countries. This week, SpaceX launched a pair of Starlink missions less than 24 hours apart to continue the rapid expansion of internet coverage.
On Friday, May 13, the company launched the 44th operational Starlink mission that successfully deployed a total of 53 satellites to orbit from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. Approximately 22.3 hours later, SpaceX launched the 45th operational Starlink mission [Group 4-15] from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. SpaceX launched this mission with a brand-new Falcon 9 rocket, which is rare for Starlink missions. The company typically launches its own satellites atop previously-flown boosters.
On May 14, a brand-new Falcon 9 lifted off at 4:40 p.m. ET from the East Coast's Space Launch Complex 40 carrying 53 Starlink satellites to orbit. The booster, identified as B1073-1, returned from space around 8-minutes after liftoff, it landed on the ' Just Read the Instructions' autonomous droneship. It is always impressive to see SpaceX recover orbital-class rockets, as seen in the video clip below. To date, SpaceX has conducted 158 missions, landed a total of 120 rockets, and reused boosters 96 times. SpaceX is currently the only company in the world with this incredible launch and recovery record.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/HUypVM7WVk— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 14, 2022
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship pic.twitter.com/fgAWgGRcyu— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 14, 2022
The Starlink Group 4-15 satellites were deployed to orbit by Falcon 9's upper-stage around a half-hour after liftoff. According to astronomer data, a total of 2,353 satellites remain in orbit out of 2,600 that have been launched since 2019. SpaceX is working to deploy Phase 1 of the Starlink constellation that consists of launching a total of 4,408 Starlink satellites into 5 orbital ‘shells’ with different parameters in LEO. The batch of Group 4-15 satellites are the 16th launch into Starlink Shell number 4. The fourth shell consists of arranging 1,584 satellites into 72 orbital planes with 22 satellites in each plane operating at an equatorial inclination of 53.2° degrees and altitude of 540-kilometers (km). So far, SpaceX has launched 16 missions into Shell 4, around 30 launches will be required to complete the orbital shell. See Starlink Phase 1 orbital parameter data in the table below.
SpaceX already provides internet service to over 250,000 customers living across the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Denmark, Chile, Portugal, Switzerland, Poland, Italy, Czech Republic, Sweden, Mexico, Croatia, Lithuania, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Luxembourg, Latvia, Tonga, Hungary, and Ukraine. SpaceX released a Starlink Coverage Map that enables interested customers to input their address to check if internet service is available in their region. For more information visit SpaceX's official website Starlink.com.
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.