SpaceX already operates the world’s largest broadband satellite constellation and is providing internet service to over 250,000 users globally. The company partnered with the U.S. Agency for International Development to provide thousands of Starlink user terminals to Ukraine to help the country maintain communications capabilities during the ongoing war with Russia. The Starlink network has been useful in the war-torn country. It assisted emergency response teams with having reliable communication to keep civilians safe and coordinate the evacuation of severely ill children out of Ukraine into neighboring countries. Read more: Ukraine children with life-threatening illnesses get to safety with help from SpaceX Starlink, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, & Jared Isaacman
SpaceX continues to build the space-based internet network with weekly Starlink-dedicated launches. On Thursday, April 21, SpaceX conducted the 41st operational Starlink mission, known as Group 4-14, which deployed a total of 53 internet-beaming satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). A flight-proven Falcon 9 rocket lifted off a 12th time at 1:51 p.m. ET from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The Falcon 9 first stage booster is identified as B1060-12; It previously launched the United States Air Force’s GPS III-3 navigation satellite, the Turksat 5A communications satellite for the Republic of Turkey, the SpaceX rideshare Transporter-2 mission, and now nine Starlink missions.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/mSA8WD2TTo— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 21, 2022
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship, completing this booster’s 12th launch and landing pic.twitter.com/6PV1bFRgar— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 21, 2022
Around 1-hour after liftoff, Falcon 9’s upper-stage released the 53 Starlink Group 4-14 satellites to orbit, boosting the total number of Starlink satellites launched to 2,388. Out of those, a total of 2,156 are in orbit, according to data by astronomer Jonathan McDowell. SpaceX is working to deploy Phase 1 of the Starlink constellation that consists of launching a total of 4,408 Starlink satellites into 5 orbital ‘shells’ with different parameters in LEO. The satellites in Group 4-14 are the 12th batch to operate in the constellation’s Shell 4. The fourth shell consists of arranging 1,584 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). So far, SpaceX has launched 12 missions into Shell 4, around 30 launches will be required to complete the orbital shell. See Starlink Phase 1 orbital parameter data in the table below.
Starlink satellites deployed into initial parking orbit pic.twitter.com/73sOZkUJaJ— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 21, 2022
Featured Image Source: SpaceX founder Elon Musk via Twitter