SpaceX Launch Increases Starlink Constellation Size To Nearly 2,000 Internet-Beaming Satellites In Orbit

von Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo Januar 06, 2022

SpaceX Launch Increases Starlink Constellation Size To Nearly 2,000 Internet-Beaming Satellites In Orbit

SpaceX is building the world’s most advanced internet system that consists of deploying at least 12,000 satellites to orbit equipped with advanced broadband technology that beams internet data directly to customer antennas on Earth. “Starlink internet works by sending information through the vacuum of space, where it travels much faster than in fiber-optic cable and can reach far more people and places,” the company says, “While most satellite internet services today come from single geostationary satellites that orbit the planet at about 35,000 km (kilometers), Starlink is a constellation of multiple satellites that orbit the planet much closer to Earth, at about 550 km, and cover the entire globe. Because Starlink satellites are in a low orbit, the round-trip data time between the user and the satellite – also known as latency – is much lower than with satellites in geostationary orbit. This enables Starlink to deliver services like online gaming that are usually not possible on other satellite broadband systems,” SpaceX said.

The company is working to deliver high-speed internet to underserved regions globally. SpaceX’s first launch of 2022 deployed 49 internet-beaming Starlink satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) today, January 6, as part of the 35th Starlink mission (Group 4 Launch 5) dedicated to building the broadband satellite constellation. With today’s launch, the company now operates nearly 2,000 satellites in space. A previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket lifted off this afternoon at 4:49 p.m. EST from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, propelling the fleet of 49 satellites. The satellites are equipped with inter-satellite communication laser links that enable the satellites to beam high-speed internet data directly to one another without the need to receive data from ground stations on Earth. The laser links feature enables a much faster internet service directly to user antennas, compared to internet infrastructures with fiber-optic cables underground because light travels faster in the vacuum of space.

The launch trajectory of this mission was unique, Falcon 9 launched southeast on a course north of the Bahamas to propel the satellites into an orbital plane with an inclination of 53.2 degrees to the equator at an altitude of around 540-kilometers in LEO. SpaceX’s previous launches carrying Starlink satellites into a similar orbit have flown northeast. Around 9-minutes after lift off, the Falcon 9’s first-stage booster, identified as B1062-4, landed on the ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas’ autonomous drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. It marked the booster’s fourth flight and landing. B1062-4 previously launched the U.S. Space Force’s GPS III-4 navigation satellite in November 2020, as well as the GPS III-5 launch in June 2021. The booster also launched SpaceX Inspiration4 mission, the world’s first all-civilian mission to orbit the Earth in September last year. SpaceX is the only aerospace company in the world with an incredible rocket recovery record. It has landed 101 orbital-class rockets and reflown recovered boosters 79 times. 

Source: SpaceX Broadcast 

Approximately 20-minutes after liftoff, Falcon 9’s upper-stage deployed the 49 Starlink satellites to orbit, increasing the constellation size to 1,993. In the weeks ahead, the satellites will use their onboard Krypton-powered ion thrusters to propel into an operational orbit. SpaceX is currently working on building Phase 1 of the Starlink constellation which involves launching 4,400 satellites into five orbital planes referred to as 'shell'. These shells are located at different altitudes above the planet, between 540 and 560 kilometers with orbital inclinations of 53, 53.2, 70, and 97.6 degrees. Today’s mission deployed satellites into Shell 4 at 53.2 degrees to the equator. SpaceX is working to enable service coverage worldwide, as well as mobility to enable Starlink internet aboard moving vehicles, like RVs, sea-going vessels, and even airplanes. During the mission’s live broadcast, launch commentator SpaceX Engineer Jessie Anderson shared that the Starlink network now has over 145,000 users across 25 countries globally. To find out if Starlink is available in your area visit Starlink.com. 

 

VIDEO: SPACEX STARLINK MISSION 

 

 



Featured Image Source: SpaceX Elon Musk








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