Today, March 24th, a flight-proven SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched 56 Starlink satellites to orbit before noon. The Falcon 9 lifted off at 11:33 a.m. ET from Space Launch Complex-40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. This mission marks the 20th launch of 2023. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell says the company has a bold ambition to perform up to 100 missions this year, most are expected to be Starlink satellite deployments.
SpaceX continues to expand broadband internet globally with every new fleet of satellites deployed. Company officials recently shared that Starlink already provides high-speed internet service to over one million subscribers residing across all seven continents. The satellite network is also capable of beaming maritime coverage to sea-going vessels, aircraft, trains, RV's, and other vehicles in motion. Visit Starlink.com for more information.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/QJUch6L6QQ— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 24, 2023
The Falcon 9 first-stage that supported this mission has now been flown 10 times. It previously launched: SpaceX’s 22nd and 25th NASA Commercial Resupply (CRS-22 & CRS-25) missions, SpaceX’s NASA Crew-3 and Crew-4 astronaut missions to the International Space Station, Turksat 5B, Eutelsat HOTBIRD 13G, mPOWER-a, and now three Starlink missions. The first-stage is internally identified by SpaceX as B1067-10. The booster was recovered a tenth time in order to be reused; it performed a propulsive landing on the ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas’ autonomous droneship around 8.5 minutes after liftoff while it was stationed around 660-kilometers off Florida’s coast. SpaceX shared incredible footage of B1067-10 touching down on the sea-going landing platform, shown below. As of today, the company has landed a total of 181 orbital-class rockets and reused recovered boosters 153 times. SpaceX is currently the only company on Earth capable of such reusability. Recovering rockets to reuse has enabled SpaceX to deploy its Starlink constellation at a cost-effective rate.
The fleet of 56 Starlink satellites was deployed to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) approximately 65 minutes after liftoff. The satellites are believed to be first-generation Starlink V1 technology. The company already launched dozens of upgraded Starlink V2 ‘Mini’ satellites, however, it is still working to finish launching its first-generation fleet simultaneously. All user antennas to access the internet network are compatible with V1 and V2 technologies.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship pic.twitter.com/34f8zYCKbz— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 24, 2023
SpaceX has launched a total of 4,161 Starlink satellites since 2019. According to satellite data compiled by Astronomer Jonathan McDowell, only 3,858 Starlink satellites remain in LEO as of today. SpaceX founder Elon Musk confirmed on March 22 that some of the Starlink satellites have been deorbited due to varying circumstances. Months ago, some satellites crashed into Earth’s atmosphere because of a solar storm that killed an entire fleet. When satellites are released to orbit engineers test whether each satellite is operating optimally, if there are issues the satellites are directed to burn into the atmosphere to avoid creating space debris. “[A] Lot of new technology in Starlink V2, so we’re experiencing some issues, as expected. Some sats [satellites] will be deorbited, others will be tested thoroughly before raising altitude above Space Station,” shared Musk via Twitter. Once each satellite is confirmed to work optimally, each uses their onboard thrusters to raise into a higher operational orbit. Ultimately, SpaceX has permission from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch a total of 12,000 Starlink satellites to LEO in the coming years.
Seems like something is going on with some of the other Starlink V2 mini's, some changes in altitude and eccentricity (more eccentric orbits). @planet4589 any thoughts? Orbital mechanics ain't my jam pic.twitter.com/CFQzU8LpEj— Nathan Owens (@VirtuallyNathan) March 22, 2023
Lot of new technology in Starlink V2, so we’re experiencing some issues, as expected.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 22, 2023
Some sats will be deorbited, others will be tested thoroughly before raising altitude above Space Station.
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Featured Images 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.