SpaceX is rapidly building the Starlink broadband constellation, designed to beam internet globally from satellites operating in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). To date, SpaceX has launched around 2,137 satellites since 2019. It has approval from the U.S Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to operate 12,000 satellites in LEO, which will be launched over the next five years.
Starlink already beams internet service to over 250,000 customers across 25 countries. Most recently, SpaceX engineers enabled Starlink service in the Kingdom of Tonga islands that were struck by a volcano eruption in January that caused tsunamis and destroyed the only fiber-optic cable that connects the country to the world wide web. Tonga remained without internet for around 5 weeks until SpaceX donated Starlink terminals and set up ground infrastructure to enable Tonga communities to access the internet. Read more: Government of Tonga Thanks SpaceX For Providing Starlink Internet After Volcano Destroyed Fiber-optic Communications
SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9 rocket fleet has enabled frequent Starlink missions to steadily expand internet coverage. The company has conducted at least one Starlink mission per week and it plans to launch even more satellites this year to continue the worldwide expansion. The next satellites will launch from California on Friday, February 25th – less than a week from the previous Starlink deployment that took place on Monday, February 21st.
A thrice-flown Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to liftoff at 9:12 a.m. PST from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base. If the rocket launch is delayed, a backup opportunity is scheduled for Saturday, February 26 at 8:50 a.m. PST. The mission is identified as Starlink Group 4-9, it will launch a total of 50 satellites to LEO and be the ninth fleet of satellites launched into orbital Shell 4, orbital parameters are detailed in the table below.
The Falcon 9 first-stage booster supporting this mission is identified as B1063-4. The upcoming mission will be its fourth flight. The Booster previously launched NASA’s Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, NASA’s first DART planetary defense mission, and one Starlink satellite deployment in 2021. SpaceX plans to recover B1063-4 by landing it on the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ droneship, which will be stationed in the Pacific Ocean. SpaceX will broadcast the mission 15-minutes before liftoff, you can watch it live in the video linked below. Visit Starlink.com for more information.
WATCH IT LIVE!
Featured Image Source: SpaceX