CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched a new batch of 60 Starlink Internet satellites into orbit on Wednesday afternoon (April 7) and nailed a landing at sea to complete a successful mission.
The veteran Falcon 9 rocket exploded from Space Launch Complex 40 here at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at. 12:34 EDT (1634 GMT), marking the company’s 10th launch of the year.
“Falcon 9 has been successfully lifted from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station with our stack of Starlink satellites in orbit,” said Jessie Anderson, a SpaceX production engineer, during a live webcast of the launch.
About nine minutes later, the rocket̵
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SpaceX continues the rapid launch pace set last year when Hawthorne, California-based rocket builder celebrated its 10th launch so far in 2021. The majority of these launches have been SpaceX’s own Starlink satellites as the company gets closer to filling its original Internet constellation of 1,440 broadband satellites.
Although this constellation could eventually be tens of thousands of satellites that are powerful, as SpaceX is allowed to launch as many as 30,000, with the possibility of even more.
Forecasts for the 45th place wing’s weather squadron predicted favorable conditions at launch, and the weather did not disappoint. It was nothing but blue skies over the space coast today as the Falcon 9 rocket climbed into orbit.
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The booster for today’s launch, called the B1058, is one of SpaceX’s fleet of aircraft-tested boosters. The veteran pilot now has seven launches and landings under his belt and is rapidly rising as one of the fleet leaders.
The B1058 debuted almost a year ago when it became the first to sport NASA’s iconic worm logo. “The worm is back,” former NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted at the time.
The iconic red worm logo was created in the 1970s and used for a while before the space company relied only on its other iconic symbol – the NASA meatball.
While the meatball is still the main logo, NASA has chosen to have the worm on its occupied missions. The once bright red script is now dark and sooty, a result of its many trips in space and back.
B1058 was the first commercial rocket to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s commercial crew program. It is the first first flight, the Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission, which took off from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center here in Florida on May 30, 2020, marking the first time astronauts have exploded from American soil since the end of the shuttle program in 2011.
Then the booster flew a second time in July 2020, delivering a communications satellite into space to the South Korean military.
Booster also delivered the first upgraded Dragon cargo capsule to the space station in December 2020 and made history again in January as a booster to deliver most satellites in a single payload in orbit. This rideshare mission, called Transporter-1, deposited a record 143 small satellites in space. (The previous record was held by India’s space agency for the launch of 104 small satellites in 2017.)
This is the 113th overall flight for the Falcon 9, and the 59th flight of a used, refurbished booster. In fact, every spaceX launch so far in 2021 has been on a flight-tested rocket.
The mission also marks the fifth consecutive successful landing for SpaceX after the company lost one of its six-time pilots on February 15, when the rocket lost an engine in flight and subsequently failed to land on the drone ship, ending more than two dozen traps. .
SpaceX attributed the anomaly to a shutdown of one of the engines. The first stage of the rocket is powered by nine Merlin 1D engines and is designed to be able to complete its mission even if one of the engines shuts down prematurely.
Unfortunately, the rocket was not able to slow down enough to land on the drone ship as expected. Company officials have stressed that while it is unfortunate to lose a booster, the main goal of every mission is always to deliver the payload safely to the intended trajectory. Anything beyond that is a bonus.
However, SpaceX has a fleet of flight-tested rockets available, allowing SpaceX to keep up with its fast launch cadence.
With today’s launch success, SpaceX has launched a total of more than 1,400 Starlink satellites into orbit, including some that are no longer operational. This almost fills the company’s original quota, as some have deorbitated. And there will be many more launches as the company has sought approval for tens of thousands more.
SpaceX launched its massive Internet constellation with one main goal: to connect the planet. For this purpose, business engineers designed a fleet of flat-screen broadband satellites to fly over Earth and radiated Internet coverage to users across the globe – especially those in rural and remote areas who would not otherwise be connected.
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Currently, Starlink is still in its beta testing phase with users in the US, Canada, UK, Germany and New Zealand having access to the service. SpaceX takes pre-orders in preparation for when its full commercial services will be rolled out sometime later in the year. Potential users can start booking the service with a $ 99 security deposit right now by signing up for the company’s website.
SpaceX is not the only company with ambitions to connect the globe. OneWeb, Amazon and Telstar all have their own constellations planned. However, OneWeb is currently the only other service with actual satellites in space.
The London-based company launched 36 of its satellites last month on a Russian Soyuz as it works to complete its planned constellation containing 650 satellites. (To date, OneWeb has launched five of its planned 19 missions.)
Both fairing halves of today’s mission have flown before, and with good luck, they will soon be flying again.
That is, if they land intact. Using parachutes on board, the mussel-like hardware will gently spray down into the Atlantic Ocean and be pulled up out of the water by SpaceX’s latest boat, a pink and blue vessel named Shelia Bordelon.
Participating in her second mission, Shelia Bordelon will use a built-in crane to pick up the frames. It is unclear whether this boat will be a permanent member of the Navy or whether she will just help in the short term.
SpaceX officially retires with its two fairing catchers – GO Ms. Chief and GO Ms. Tree – and will rely on other recovery vessels to pick up the declining fairings in the future.
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