SpaceX’s First Starlink Mission Launched From California Will Be In September

Evelyn Arevalo by Evelyn Arevalo September 03, 2021

SpaceX’s First Starlink Mission Launched From California Will Be In September

SpaceX has not launched a rocket from the West Coast since November 2020, when it launched NASA’s Michael Freilich Sentinel-6A Earth observatory. The company is getting ready to conduct its next launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base, it will be the first Starlink mission launched from California. They completed a static-firing of the flight-proven Falcon 9 booster that will deploy the next fleet of satellites. “Static fire test of Falcon 9 complete – targeting later this month for first West Coast Starlink mission, will announce a target date closer to launch,” SpaceX announced on September 2. During the static-firing, Falcon 9’s nine Merlin 1D engines are briefly ignited as the booster remains grounded to the launch pad, this helps engineers assess the engines performance ahead of flight.

 

The mission’s assigned name, ‘Starlink 2-1,’ is different than previous Starlink missions. The company has not released information about the assigned mission name. The name change could be related to the fact that it is SpaceX’s first West Coast Starlink mission that will deployed into different orbital parameters; Or it could suggest that the company will launch the first entire fleet of the next-generation Starlink 'Gen2 System' satellites. These satellites will feature inter-satellite communication laser links, capable of transmitting data at a much faster rate because they will not require a ground station to operate. “[…] Data packets do not need to touch regular Internet – data can flow from user terminal to satellite/s to user terminal,” SpaceX founder Elon Musk explained via Twitter.

SpaceX has deployed a total of 1,740 satellites to low Earth orbit out of over 12,000 it plans to deploy. The company suddenly stopped its Starlink deployments since June 30. In mid-August, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell participated at the 36th Annual Space Symposium where she revealed why the company has not launched any Falcon 9 Starlink missions. Shotwell said that SpaceX decided to pause Starlink launches to complete manufacturing the first batches of next-generation satellites equipped with laser communication links. They are working on manufacturing enough satellites with lasers to launch on upcoming missions. “[…] That's why we have been struggling for six or eight weeks, we wanted the next set to have laser terminals on them,” she said. Shotwell also said on August 24 that the next Starlink mission is “roughly three weeks” away, her statement indicates that the West Coast launch scheduled for September could be the first to deploy an entire fleet of next-generation satellites, however, this is still not officially confirmed by SpaceX [pending confirmation]. Musk recently said they expect that a set of satellites equipped with lasers could be active/operational within the next “4 to 6 months.”

 Featured Image Source: SpaceX





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