On Thursday, October 20, SpaceX launched another fleet of Starlink satellites with a flight-proven Falcon 9 rocket. It marked the 63rd operational Starlink mission, which boosted the total number of Starlink satellites launched to 3,505 of which around 3,229 remain in orbit, according to data by leading astronomer Jonathan McDowell. SpaceX operates the world’s largest satellite constellation. The company plans to launch at least 12,000 satellites within the next five years.
The Falcon 9 that supported the Starlink Group 4-36 mission lifted off for the 10th time at 10:50 a.m. ET, launching 54 Starlink satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Falcon 9 is the United States' most flown rocket. "Congrats to SpaceX team on 48th launch this year! Falcon 9 now holds record for most launches of a single vehicle type in a year," said SpaceX founder Elon Musk.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/s684z16wh7— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 20, 2022
This Falcon 9 Block 5 first-stage booster is identified as B1062-10, it previously launched the United States Space Force's GPS III Space Vehicle 04 and GPS III Space Vehicle 05, SpaceX's Inspiration4 all-civilian mission, Axiom's first crewed flight to the International Space Station (Ax-1), Egypt's Nilesat 301 communications satellite, and now five Starlink missions. B1062-10 returned from orbit soon after launching the Starlink Group 4-36 satellites; the first-stage booster landed on the 'A Shortfall of Gravitas' autonomous spaceport in the Atlantic Ocean. To date, SpaceX has landed a total of 148 orbital-class rockets and reused boosters 123 times, out of 186 missions.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship pic.twitter.com/gcz5B3yN9O— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 20, 2022
The 54 Starlink Group 4-36 satellites are the 30th fleet to be part of the fourth Starlink shell. SpaceX is arranging Phase 1 of the Starlink constellation into five orbital shells, each with different orbital parameters, as detailed in the table shown below. The 54 satellites were deployed to LEO around half-an-hour after liftoff. The satellites will unfurl their single solar array and use onboard krypton-powered ion engines to maneuver into their operational orbit in the days ahead. The satellites will operate at an altitude of 540-kilometers. SpaceX already provides high-speed internet in 44 countries across all seven continents, see Starlink Coverage Map.
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.