In a remarkable display of rocket reusability, SpaceX has achieved an unprecedented feat by launching their third fleet of Starlink V2 Mini satellites within a single week. The company's Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Friday, August 11, at 1:17 a.m. ET, carrying a payload of 22 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/hyr81mdZTU— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 11, 2023
This achievement was made possible by the Falcon 9's reusability, with the first stage booster, known as B1069-9, completing its ninth flight on this mission. The booster had previously supported a diverse range of missions, including: NASA CRS-24 cargo mission to the International Space Station, Eutelsat HOTBIRD 13F, OneWeb 1, SES-18 and SES-19, and now five Starlink missions. Following its latest successful launch, the booster executed a precise landing on the "Just Read The Instructions" autonomous spaceport droneship stationed at sea. This marked SpaceX's 216th orbital-class rocket landing, with 189 of them involving reused boosters.
This mission, designated Starlink Group 6-9, saw the deployment of 22 Starlink V2 Mini satellites. SpaceX has been rapidly expanding its Starlink constellation, with this launch pushing the total number of launched Starlink satellites to 4,940, out of which approximately 4,597 are already in orbit around Earth.
The pace of SpaceX's launches is unprecedented, averaging one launch every 4.5 days. This latest success comes just after the launch of Starlink Group 6-20 from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, which carried 15 Starlink V2 Mini satellites, and Starlink Group 6-21 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, deploying another 22 satellites into Low Earth Orbit. Today's mission marked SpaceX's 56th launch of 2023, further solidifying their position as a leading force in the space industry. The company is well on its way to achieving its ambitious goal of completing 100 missions this year, a significant increase from the previous year, demonstrating their commitment to advancing reusability and cost-effectiveness in spaceflight. SpaceX also reused the rocket's fairing for an 11th time during this mission.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship pic.twitter.com/YJadybqd9L— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 11, 2023
The Starlink V2 Mini satellites aboard the Falcon 9 are a crucial component of SpaceX's groundbreaking project to establish a global satellite internet network. This initiative aims to provide high-speed internet access to remote and underserved areas worldwide, revolutionizing connectivity. The launch of the Starlink V2 Mini satellites is the eleventh fleet deployed in the V2 series, reflecting SpaceX's ongoing commitment to expanding their satellite constellation.
One aspect that has caught the attention of Starlink users and enthusiasts is the varying number of satellites launched in each mission. While earlier V1.5 satellite launches typically carried over 50 satellites, the V2 Mini satellite launches have featured around 15 to 22 satellites. This discrepancy is due to the upgraded second-generation V2 satellites being larger and heavier, equipped with enhanced power-generation capabilities through two heavy solar arrays. The difference underscores SpaceX's commitment to innovation and improving satellite technology.
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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.