SpaceX continues to steadily build its Starlink broadband constellation. The company has been performing missions almost on a weekly basis to rapidly expand satellite internet coverage globally. Today, May 4, SpaceX deployed another Starlink fleet – surpassing 4,000 satellites in orbit. A flight-proven Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 3:31 a.m. ET, carrying 56 Starlink satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) from Space Launch Complex-40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. This mission is called ‘Starlink Group 5-6’.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/oqX5Gclmwe— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 4, 2023
The previously-flown Falcon 9 first-stage booster that supported the mission is identified as B1069-7. It has now flown seven missions, including: the 24th NASA Commercial Resupply (CRS-24) mission to the International Space Station, the Eutelsat HOTBIRD 13F mission, OneWeb 1, SES-18 and SES-19, and now three Starlink missions. Approximately 8-minutes after liftoff, the booster returned from space with a propulsive landing on the ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas’ autonomous spaceport droneship which was situated in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. To date, SpaceX has performed 228 missions, landed 189 orbital-class rockets, and reused recovered rockets 163 times. Watching rockets land is amazing, see video clip below. Today’s mission marked the company’s 29th spaceflight of the year (excluding the Starship launch attempt to orbit).
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship pic.twitter.com/EutLNuLDDe— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 4, 2023
The fleet of 56 Starlink satellites was released by Falcon 9’s upper-stage around an hour after liftoff. SpaceX is arranging Phase 1 of the Starlink satellite constellation in five orbital shells with varying orbital parameters in LEO. This fleet belongs to Starlink Group 5-6 which is the seventh group of satellites that will be part of Shell 5. In this particular shell, the satellites will operate at an altitude of 560 kilometers above Earth with an inclination of 97.6 degrees to the equator. According to data maintained by Astronomer Jonathan McDowell, SpaceX has now launched a total of 4,340 Starlink satellites to orbit and 4,023 remain operational as of today. Out of these, over 400 are still using their onboard thrusters to move into their operational orbits, and around 3,408 already beam internet service to customers. It takes a few weeks for satellites to reach their designated orbits to begin service. SpaceX has plans to launch 7,500 next-generation Starlink satellites in the coming years. Read the previous TESMANIAN stories: Starlink residential users now have 'unlimited' data as SpaceX gets rid of 1TB data cap
SpaceX enters the U.S. retail market, Starlink Kit is now available at The Home Depothttps://t.co/4QIuu8hZ70— Tesmanian.com (@Tesmanian_com) May 3, 2023
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Featured Image Source: SpaceX Mission Broadcast
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.