May the fourth is ‘Star Wars Day.’ SpaceX conducted the 26th Starlink mission this afternoon. A veteran Falcon 9 rocket booster lifted off a ninth time at 3:01 p.m. EDT from Launch Complex-39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying a new batch of 60 Starlink satellites to orbit. “And Liftoff! May the Force (fourth) be with us!” SpaceX commentator said during the Live broadcast as the rocket propelled to space. The quote is a reference to the popular Star Wars film because it rhymes with today's date - 'May the fourth'. SpaceX founder Elon Musk actually named the Falcon launch vehicles after the Star Wars 'Millennium Falcon' spaceship. He shared in 2019 that the 'original Star Wars' movie is his favorite.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/lOjB4bcgvw— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 4, 2021
Original Star Wars— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 19, 2019
The previously-flown booster, identified as B1049-9, supported six other Starlink missions, as well as the Telstar 18 VANTAGE mission, and Iridium-8 launch. Engineers aim to reuse a particular first-stage rocket booster ten times to reduce the cost of spaceflight. SpaceX is getting closer to achieving that reusability milestone with B1049-9 completing its ninth re-flight today. The booster was recovered once again, around 9-minutes after propelling the satellites to space, B1049-9 conducted a propulsive landing on the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ autonomous drone ship situated 630-kilometers downrange Florida’s Coast in the Atlantic Ocean. It marked SpaceX’s 82nd landing of an orbital-class rocket.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship – the 9th landing of this booster pic.twitter.com/wzPjMsu2z3— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 4, 2021
The booster propelled the upper-stage carrying 60 internet-beaming Starlink satellites to Low Earth Orbit, increasing the constellation size to around 1,560 satellites. SpaceX already operates the largest broadband satellite constellation in the world. Approximately an hour after liftoff, the satellites were released to orbit our planet. Each satellite will unfurl its single solar panel array and rise into a higher operational altitude in the coming weeks. To move, each satellite is equipped with krypton-powered ion thrusters that will take the satellites into an altitude of around 550-kilometers above Earth.
Deployment of 60 Starlink satellites confirmed, completing SpaceX’s 10th Starlink mission this year pic.twitter.com/hbL8UV15hk— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 4, 2021
SpaceX is already providing beta internet service to customers in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, and will soon connect more countries and regions. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said ‘near-global’ broadband coverage will be achieved by the end of 2021. During the Live broadcast of today’s launch, a SpaceX commentator Siva Bharadvaj shared that “over half a million” customers from around the world have pre-ordered the Starlink service, which includes purchasing the hardware to connect to the network. “With every launch, we get closer to connecting more people across the world,” he said. Musk says that Starlink will help SpaceX fund future missions to Mars long-term. Starlink customers are supporting the company’s grand vision to make life-multiplanetary. To pre-order the internet service visit Starlink.com.
Featured Image Source: SpaceX Live 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.