Approximately 7 hours after launching Crew-5 astronauts, SpaceX deployed Starlink satellites from the West Coast. A previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 7:10 p.m. ET (4:10 PT) from Space Launch Complex-4E at the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, carrying a fleet of 52 Starlink satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The first-stage booster supporting this mission is identified as B1071-5. It now has launched five missions, including: the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office's NROL-87 and NROL-85 missions, Germany government SARah-1 radar satellite, and a pair of Starlink missions.
The flight-proven booster B1063-7 returned from space a fifth time after propelling the upper-stage to orbit, it landed on the 'Of Course I Still Love You' autonomous droneship stationed in the Pacific Ocean around 653-kilometers downrange. It marked SpaceX’s 145th landing of an orbital-class rocket and the 120th time it reused a booster. SpaceX is currently the only aerospace company in the world capable of such reusability which enables it to perform frequent launches.
The 52 Starlink satellites that were deployed to LEO are part of Group 4-29, which is the 29th launch to the fourth Starlink shell. SpaceX is arranging Phase 1 of the Starlink constellation into five orbital shells with different orbital parameters, detailed in the table shown below. The 52 internet-beaming satellites were released to orbit 62-minutes after liftoff, boosting the total number of Starlink satellites launched since 2019 to 3,451. Of those, only ~3,179 remain in orbit according to data by astronomer Jonathan McDowell. SpaceX plans to launch a total of 12,000 Starlink satellites to LEO within the next five years to provide global access to the internet. The company already provides service to over half-a-million users living across all seven continents. See Starlink Coverage Map at SpaceX's official Starlink.com website.
Deployment of 52 Starlink satellites confirmed – completing SpaceX’s second launch in ~7 hours!
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.