SpaceX launched the 60th operational Starlink mission on Sunday, September 18, after multiple weather related delays. The Starlink Group 4-34 mission was initially scheduled for September 13, however, severe thunderstorms along Florida's coast delayed liftoff five consecutive times. On Sunday, a flight-proven Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 8:18 p.m. ET from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, carrying a total of 54 Starlink satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/UHR1nXob8t— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 19, 2022
The previously-flown Falcon 9 first-stage booster that propelled the Starlink satellites to orbit is identified as B1067-6. It marked the sixth launch and landing of the particular booster which previously launched: SpaceX's 22nd and 25th Commercial Resupply Services mission to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA (CRS-22 / CRS-25), SpaceX's third operational crewed flight to ISS (Crew-3), as well as Crew-4. It also launched the Turkish Turksat 5B satellite, and now one Starlink mission. Soon after propelling the Starlink fleet to LEO, the booster returned from orbit and landed on the 'Just Read the Instructions' autonomous drone ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. It marked SpaceX’s 142 landing of an orbital-class rocket and the 118 time the company has reflown a first-stage booster. SpaceX is the only company in the world capable of reusing orbital-class rockets. To date, the most it has reused a particular booster is 14 times.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship pic.twitter.com/qXvgp8kMeH— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 19, 2022
SpaceX is arranging Phase 1 of the Starlink constellation into five orbital shells with different orbital parameters. The 54 Starlink satellites in the Group 4-34 fleet are the 27th launch into orbital Shell 4, which consists of arranging 1,584 satellites at an altitude of 540-kilometers with an inclination of 53.2 degrees to the equator (see the table below for orbital parameter information of Phase 1 of the Starlink constellation). The 54 satellites were deployed to orbit approximately 15-minutes after liftoff. SpaceX has launched a total of 3,347 satellites since 2019, of which only around 3,076 remain in orbit as of today, according to data by astronomer Jonathan McDowell.
The 54 Starlink satellites will unfurl their single solar array and use onboard krypton-powered ion engines to maneuver into their operational orbit in the coming weeks. Once the fleet reaches its operational orbit, the solar-powered satellites will begin beaming signals to SpaceX’s Starlink customers. The company already provides internet access to all seven continents, including hard-to-reach remote regions like Antarctica. To access the broadband satellite network, users install a pizza-sized Starlink terminal phased array antenna that receives data from the satellites in Low Earth Orbit. Visit SpaceX’s official website Starlink.com for more information.
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.