SpaceX launches new booster with more Starlink satellites – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX launches new booster with more Starlink satellites – Spaceflight Now

Live coverage of the countdown and launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The Starlink 4-15 mission launched SpaceX’s next batch of 53 Starlink broadband satellites. follow us on Twitter.

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Less than 24 hours after launching Starlink satellites from California, SpaceX shot down another 53 Internet relay stations from Cape Canaveral aboard a Falcon 9 rocket at 4:40 p.m. EDT (2040 GMT) Saturday. It was SpaceX’s 20th launch this year and second in 2022 to unveil a new Falcon 9 booster.

The booster landed on SpaceX’s Just Read the Instructions drone ship, floating in the Atlantic Ocean northeast of Cape Canaveral.

SpaceX plans to complete preparations for the Falcon 9 rocket on Saturday and begin loading super-cooled, compressed kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants into the 70-meter-tall vehicle at T-minus 35 minutes.

In the last half hour of the countdown, helium is also injected into the rocket. During the final seven minutes before liftoff, the Falcon 9’s main Merlin engines are thermally conditioned for flight through a process known as “chilldown.” The Falcon 9 guidance and range safety systems will also be configured for the 16:40:50 launch

The 70-meter tall Falcon 9 rocket will channel its 1.7 million pounds of thrust – generated by nine Merlin engines – to steer northeast across the Atlantic.

The rocket will exceed the speed of sound in about a minute and shut down its nine main engines two and a half minutes after launch. The booster will drop from the Falcon 9’s upper stage, then fire impulses from cold-gas thrusters and extend titanium grid fins to steer the craft back into the atmosphere.

Two deceleration burns will slow the rocket some 400 miles (650 kilometers) down for landing on the drone ship, about eight and a half minutes after launch.

The Falcon 9 rocket for the Starlink 4-15 mission will fly northeast from Cape Canaveral, with the first stage aiming for a landing on the Just Read the Instructions drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. Photo credit: Spaceflight Now

The booster – tail number B1073 – is scheduled to start on its first mission on Saturday. The first stage landing occurs immediately before the upper stage engine shuts down. The rocket will roll halfway around the world before reigniting the Merlin vacuum upper stage engine about 45 minutes into the mission, paving the way for the separation of the 53 Starlink satellites at T+plus 54 minutes, 32 seconds.

Tie rods detach from the Starlink payload stack, allowing the flat-packed satellites to fly in orbit free of the Falcon 9 upper stage. The 53 spacecraft will deploy solar arrays and go through automated activation steps, then use krypton-powered ion thrusters to maneuver into their operational orbit.

Falcon 9’s guidance computer will aim to deploy the satellites in a near-circular orbit at an altitude of between 189 miles and 197 miles (305 by 318 kilometers) at an inclination of 53.2 degrees to the equator. The satellites will use onboard propulsion to do the rest of the work to achieve a circular orbit 335 miles (540 kilometers) above Earth.

Saturday’s mission’s Starlink satellites will fly in one of five orbital “envelopes” used on SpaceX’s global internet network. Upon reaching operational orbit, the satellites will enter commercial service and begin broadcasting broadband signals to consumers who can purchase the Starlink service and connect to the network using a SpaceX-provided ground terminal.

Photo credit: Spaceflight Now

Following Friday’s mission, SpaceX will have launched 2,600 Starlink satellites to date, including spacecraft that have been decommissioned or experienced failures. More than 2,200 of these satellites are in orbit and functioning as of this week, according to a list provided by Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist who closely follows space activity.

Read our mission preview for more details.

ROCKET: Falcon 9 (B1073.1)

PAYLOAD: 53 Starlink satellites (Starlink 4-15)

STARTING PLACE: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Force space station, Florida

PUBLICATION DATE: May 14, 2022

START TIME: 16:40:50 EDT (2040:50 GMT)

WEATHER FORECAST: 80% chance of acceptable weather; Low risk of upper level winds; Low risk of unfavorable conditions for booster recovery

BOOSTER RECOVERY: Just Read the Instructions drone ship east of Charleston, South Carolina

START AZIMUTH: Northeast

TARGET ORBIT: 189 miles by 197 miles (305 kilometers by 318 kilometers), 53.2 degrees inclination

SCHEDULE FOR INTRODUCTION:

  • T+00:00: Take off
  • T+01:12: Maximum aerodynamic pressure (Max-Q)
  • T+02:34: First Stage Main Engine Shutdown (MECO)
  • T+02:37: Stage separation
  • T+02:44: Second stage engine ignition
  • T+02:50: Disguise shedding
  • T+06:23: First stage combustion ignition (three engines)
  • T+06:37: First stage combustion shutdown
  • T+07:59: First stage landing burn (one engine)
  • T+08:24: First stage landing
  • T+08:50: Second stage engine shutdown (SECO 1)
  • T+45:29: Second stage restart
  • T+45:31: Second stage engine shutdown (SECO 2)
  • T+54:32: Starlink satellite disconnect

MISSION STATISTICS:

  • 154th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
  • 162nd launch of the Falcon rocket family since 2006
  • 1. Falcon 9 booster B1073 launch
  • Launch of the 134th Falcon 9 from the Space Coast in Florida
  • Launch of the 86th Falcon 9 from Pad 40
  • 141. Start overall from pad 40
  • 67. Flight of a new Falcon booster
  • 46th dedicated Falcon 9 launch with Starlink satellites
  • 20. Falcon 9 launch in 2022
  • 20. SpaceX launch in 2022
  • 19. Cape Canaveral-based orbital launch in 2022

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @Stephen Clark1.

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