SpaceX completed the 41st Starlink mission on Wednesday, March 9. It is the 10th Falcon 9 launch in the first 10 weeks of 2022. SpaceX aims to conduct a rocket flight at least once per week to complete a record-breaking 52 missions this year. The increased launch rate is possible because SpaceX is capable of recovering and reusing orbital-class rocket boosters that enables it to quickly perform cost-effective spaceflights.
During Wednesday's Starlink Group 4-10 mission, a thrice-flown Falcon 9 rocket lifted off a fourth time at 8:45 a.m. EST from Launch Complex-40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida to launch a batch of 48 satellites to Low Earth Orbit. –"Time to let the American broomstick fly and hear the sounds of freedom," said SpaceX's launch director moments before liftoff. The "broomstick" reference is related to something Russian Roscosmos space agency leader Dmitry Rogozin said after the United States imposed strong sanctions against the country of Russia for its aggressive invasion of Ukraine. "[...] Let them fly on something else, their broomsticks," Rogozin said last week when Russia halted sales of rocket engines to U.S. launch providers. NASA depended on Russia's Soyuz rocket to transport astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) for roughly a decade since 2011, until SpaceX returned human spaceflight capabilities to America in 2020. SpaceX designs and manufacturers its own rockets and engines.
🇺🇸🇺🇸 American Broomstick 🇺🇸🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/r2hJvFQosS— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 3, 2022
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/EGxL5a9tbh— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 9, 2022
Listen to the SpaceX launch director, I love it! Go SpaceX!— Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo 💙🦊🇺🇦 (@JaneidyEve) March 9, 2022
"Time to let the American broomstick fly & hear the sounds of freedom." pic.twitter.com/23C5rzWOaa
SpaceX founder Elon Musk has shown support for people living in Ukraine since the Russian invasion started on February 24th. He delivered trucks filled with Starlink kits and Tesla electricity generators to Ukraine officials to enable first responders and emergency operation teams to maintain communication to help keep civilians safe amid the invasion. Reports state, Russia is blowing up Ukrainian telecommunications towers and TV broadcast stations to inhibit people from sharing their story with the world. Providing Starlink Internet to Ukraine is important so the world continues to hear the voices of the people who are fighting for freedom. The company shifted its focus to prioritize cyber security of the Starlink network after Russia jammed the internet service to prevent Ukrainians from having a reliable source for communication. "Some Starlink terminals near conflict areas were being jammed for several hours at a time. Our latest software update bypasses the jamming," Musk shared on March 4th.
You’re welcome. We have also sent power adapters for car cigarette lighters, solar/battery packs and generators for places where electricity is not available.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 9, 2022
The "broomstick" that supported the Starlink Group 4-10 mission completed the satellite deployment by touching down at sea on the SpaceX autonomous 'A Shortfall of Gravitas' droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. The rocket booster is identified as B1052-4; it previously launched Saudi Arabia’s Arabsat-6A communications satellite and COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation FM2, as well as the U.S. Air Force STP-2 mission in 2019 that was deployed with a Falcon Heavy rocket. The first-stage booster was one of the three Falcon Heavy cores. Now, SpaceX recovered the booster a fourth time to reuse on a future mission. To date, SpaceX has landed a total of 110 orbital-class rockets and reused the first-stage boosters in its fleet 87 times. Three boosters have been reused 11 times. The company says they aim to conduct at least 10 flights with each booster in its Block 5 fleet.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 9, 2022
Source: SpaceX live broadcast
The 48 Starlink satellites were released to Low Earth Orbit by Falcon 9’s upper-stage approximately one hour after liftoff. It will take a couple of weeks for these Starlink Group 4-10 satellites to rise into an operational altitude of approximately 540-kilometers. It is the tenth fleet of satellites deployed into orbital Shell 4. SpaceX is working to launch Phase 1 of the Starlink constellation that consists of deploying a total of 4,408 satellites across five orbital "shells" with different orbital parameters, detailed in the table below. SpaceX has launched a total of 2,282 satellites that operate across Shell 1, Shell 2, and Shell 4. According to data by Astronomer Jonathan McDowell, around 2,062 remain in orbit. SpaceX lost an entire batch of Starlink satellites in February due to a geomagnetic storm that caused the low-orbiting satellites to fall into Earth's atmosphere days after launch. The satellites are designed to completely burn up in the rough atmosphere to avoid creating space debris. SpaceX has since increased its initial deployment altitude to mitigate the chances of losing newly-launched satellites due to geomagnetic disturbances. Watch the full broadcast of the Starlink Group 4-10 mission in the video linked below. For more information visit Starlink.com.
VIDEO: STARLINK GROUP 4-10 MISSION
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.