SpaceX plans to launch another Starlink mission next week to continue expanding internet service coverage. The most recent fleet of satellites that was deployed on February 3rd fell out of orbit due to a geomagnetic storm that caused 40 out of 49 newly launched Starlink satellites to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere. The satellites are designed to be completely destroyed upon reentry to avoid creating space debris. Read more: SpaceX Demonstrates On-orbit Debris Mitigation After Geomagnetic Storm Destroyed 40 Starlink Satellites
SpaceX Demonstrates On-orbit Debris Mitigation After Geomagnetic Storm Destroyed 40 Starlink Satelliteshttps://t.co/lqAanoymVP— Tesmanian.com (@Tesmanian_com) February 16, 2022
The company is launching Starlink satellites at least once per week to complete Phase 1 of the constellation’s deployment which consists of launching 4,400 satellites into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) across five orbital 'shells' with varying parameters. SpaceX operates approximately 1,876 satellites in orbit, according to data by astronomer Jonathan McDowell. The Starlink satellites currently provide internet service to 250,000 active customers living across 25 countries.
SpaceX announced today that it aims to launch the Starlink Group 4-8 mission on February 21. It is the seventh launch into orbital Shell 4 that consists of arranging 1,584 yet-to-be-launched satellites into 72 orbital planes with 22 satellites in each plane operating at an equatorial inclination of 53.2° degrees and altitude of 540-kilometers (km). Around 30 launches will be required to fill out this orbital shell.
Data by SpaceX / Compiled by Tesmanian.com
Initially, the Group 4-8 launch was scheduled for Sunday but unfavorable weather conditions along Florida’s Coast delayed the mission by a day. A previously-flown Falcon 9 will lift off at 9:44 a.m. EST on Monday to launch 46 Starlink satellites from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex-40 in Florida.
Due to recovery weather, now targeting Monday, February 21 at 9:44 a.m. EST for launch of Starlink— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 19, 2022
The Falcon 9 first-stage booster that will launch the Group 4-8 satellites has previously launched 10 missions, it is identified as B1058-11. The booster first launched SpaceX’s first crewed mission for NASA to the International Space Station (ISS) in May 2020. It also deployed South Korea’s ANASIS-II satellite and launched cargo to ISS as part of the CRS-21 mission. B1058-11 also launched two SpaceX rideshare missions Transporter-1 and Transporter-3, as well as 5 Starlink missions. The upcoming Starlink mission will be the booster’s 11th flight.
Soon after launching the fleet of 46 satellites to orbit, SpaceX will land Booster B1058-11 on the ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas’ drone ship, which will be stationed approximately ~636 km downrange in the Atlantic Ocean. You can watch a Live broadcast of the Starlink Group 4-8 mission in the video linked below, courtesy of SpaceX. Visit Starlink.com for information about the internet service. EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this article said SpaceX deployed 49 satellites, on Monday, February 21, 2022, SpaceX announced it launched 46.
WATCH IT LIVE!
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.