Today, April 7, SpaceX launched the twenty-fourth Starlink mission that increased the broadband constellation’s size to 1,443 satellites in orbit - the world's largest broadband constellation. During the Satellite2021 conference, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said that after 28 launches of 60 Starlink satellites the network will have the capability to provide service to more regions. “We hope after about 28 launches, we’ll have continuous coverage throughout the globe. And then the plan after that is to continue to add satellites to provide additional capacity,” she said on April 6. The company is roughly four launches away from the 28th launch.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/luuYBpfcaw— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 7, 2021
This afternoon, a veteran Falcon 9 rocket booster, production number B1058-7, lifted off for the seventh time from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. It propelled into the sunny sky carrying 60 Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit. Approximately eight and a half minutes after liftoff, the veteran booster returned from space, landing on the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ autonomous droneship, located around 630-kilometers downrange in the Atlantic Ocean. It marked the 79th recovery of an orbital-class rocket. The company developed the reusability system to reduce the cost of spaceflight, the goal is to reuse Falcon 9 boosters up to 10 times. The veteran booster that conducted today’s mission is historic. Under all the scorch marks it features NASA’s retro worm logo in red font, SpaceX’s first astronaut duo were launched by B1058-7. The booster also conducted the SpaceX’s 21st NASA Commercial Resupply Service mission. For its fourth mission, B1058 conducted SpaceX’s Transporter-1 mission, and two previous Starlink missions.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship pic.twitter.com/9a7LUPYZue— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 7, 2021
The 60 Starlink satellites were released by Falcon 9’s upper-stage approximately 45-minutes after liftoff. Each satellite will separate to rise into a higher operational orbit in the weeks ahead. The flat-panel satellites will use their onboard Krypton-powered ion thrusters to propel into an altitude of 550-kilometers above our planet. SpaceX plans to deploy thousands of Starlink satellites in the years to come, up to 12,000 will beam internet connection around the world. The company is primarily focus on providing service to rural regions where internet is unreliable or completely unavailable. SpaceX is already accepting service pre-orders via Starlink.com.
Deployment of 60 Starlink satellites confirmed, completing SpaceX’s 10th mission this year pic.twitter.com/c15BveB3QE— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 7, 2021
Featured Image Source: SpaceX Broadcast
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.