Meteorologists predict a 60% chance of favorable weather forecasting for the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Thursday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to bring more Starlink broadband satellites into orbit.
The launch, scheduled for 14:19 EDT (1819 GMT) on Thursday, will add 60 more Starlink satellites to SpaceX’s growing broadband network. SpaceX has launched more than 700 Starlink satellites to date, making the company the owner of the largest spacecraft fleet in orbit.
Like the previous Starlink launch, a 229-foot (70-meter) Falcon 9 rocket is heading northeast off the Florida space coast, with 1.7 million pounds of power from nine main engines. Merlin, and then launched his first reinforcement stage about two and a half minutes from the flight.
A single Merlin engine in the second stage of the Falcon 9 is expected to fire twice before releasing the Starlink satellite stack in an almost circular orbit between 278 kilometers and 261 kilometers, with an inclination of 53 degrees, according to the pre-release estimates.
The separation of the 60 Starlink satellites from the rocket is expected approximately 61 minutes after launch.
SpaceX plans to retrieve the first stage of the Falcon 9 aboard the drone ship “Just Read the Instructions” located northeast of Cape Canaveral in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately east of Charleston, South Carolina. The propulsive landing of the first stage is expected eight minutes after takeoff.
The first stage of Thursday’s launch has flown twice before, including the May 30 launch of two NASA astronauts in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule and the launch of South Korea’s Anasis 2 military communications satellite on July 20th. According to SpaceX, half of the payload sweat from Thursday’s mission shell is also veteran of two previous Falcon 9 / Starlink releases.
SpaceX also plans to recover the payload fairing after Thursday’s launch. Both halves of the shroud are designed for parachuting.
The mission on Thursday will be the 13th launch of the Starlink satellites since SpaceX began deploying the network in May 2019. The most recent launch of SpaceX on September 3 carried the previous 60 Starlink satellites.
The official launch weather forecast issued Wednesday by the 45th Cape Canaveral Meteorological Squadron calls for a 60% chance of good conditions for the Falcon 9 takeoff on Thursday. Primary weather concerns on Thursday will be with clouds of cumulus and anvil associated with afternoon storms.
If the launch is delayed to Friday, there is a 40% chance of acceptable weather conditions in the forecast.
SpaceX is finally planning to launch thousands of Starlink satellites, but the first leg of Starlinks will be 1,440 spacecraft, according to Jonathan Hofeller, vice president of Starlink and commercial sales for SpaceX.
“The total global constellation we are aiming for is 1,440 satellites, many of which are already in orbit,” Hofeller said.
Some of the satellites, including those from the first Starlink launch last May, are being moved to lower altitudes and exorbitant.
Each flat-screen Starlink satellite weighs about a quarter of a ton and is built at a SpaceX facility in Redmond, Washington, near Seattle. The aerospace company, which extends SpaceX’s predisposition to build in-house hardware, manufactures its own Starlink satellites, user terminals and ground stations.
SpaceX’s mega-constellation Starlink is already the world’s largest satellite fleet, but hundreds more will be launched in the coming months.
Hofeller said last month that SpaceX is building six Starlink spacecraft a day and plans to launch Starlink missions every two to three weeks to complete the initial Starlink network of about 1,440 satellites.
SpaceX has regulatory approval from the Federal Communications Commission to end up operating nearly 12,000 Starlink satellites to cover the planet with high-speed, low-latency Internet signals. SpaceX also noted plans to launch up to 30,000 additional Starlink satellites, in addition to the 12,000 already approved, in the presentation to the International Telecommunication Union.
The Starlink network is one of the two major development projects that SpaceX is pursuing, alongside the new-generation Starship rocket, super-heavy.
In a debate at the ASCEND Summit on space science and technology last month, Hofeller said private beta testing is being rolled out in the Pacific Northwest. With approximately 700 satellites, the Starlink network has enough coverage to provide connectivity to users at high latitudes, but more launches are needed to expand coverage to other regions.
SpaceX has asked interested people to participate in the public beta test phase to sign up on the Starlink website.
With the beta testing program underway, SpaceX collects latency statistics and performs speed tests. The company says it is satisfied with the initial results.
SpaceX said earlier this month that tests so far show the network has “super low latency” with download speeds in excess of 100 megabits per second. This is fast enough to stream multiple movies in high definition at once, and there is still bandwidth left, according to SpaceX.
SpaceX has also begun testing spacecraft with laser links between satellites, which could eventually allow data traffic to flow through the network without going through ground-based stations. The first batch of Starlink satellites did not carry satellite links
Hofeller hinted at the updated Starlink satellites in his virtual presentation at the ASCEND Space Science and Technology Summit last month
“With 1,440 satellites, that’s when we get global coverage 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and the plan is not to stop here,” Hofeller said. “We will continue to launch and, with each launch, we can offer more and more capacity. There is never enough capacity. You can’t limit what your kids want to see and what your family wants to consume. Therefore, we will continue to densify the network. “
According to Hofeller, SpaceX will exorbit older Starlink satellites as upgraded spacecraft go online.
Following Thursday’s launch, SpaceX’s next mission will be launched from Runway 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on September 30, when a Falcon 9 rocket will deploy the Force’s next GPS navigation satellite. United States space.
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