SpaceX surpasses 2,500 satellites launched for Starlink internet network – Spaceflight Now

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket climbs into the sky over Vandenberg Area Power Base to start the Starlink 4-13 mission. Credit: Gene Blevins/LA Every day Information

SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket with one other batch of 53 Starlink web satellites from California’s Central Coast on Friday afternoon, bringing the entire variety of spacecraft launched on the community to over 2,500.

Falcon 9 took off from Vandenberg Area Power Base, a army spaceport between Los Angeles and San Francisco, at 15:07:50 PDT (6:07:50 EDT: 2207:50 GMT) on Friday.

With winds close to the Falcon 9’s launch restrict at Vandenberg, the 229-foot-tall (70-metre) rocket powered a sunny sky with 9 Merlin engines offering as much as 1.7 million kilos of thrust.

In a south-southeast course, the kerosene-burning engines shut down two and a half minutes after takeoff, after which the booster left Falcon 9’s second stage. The second stage’s solely engine burned to speed up 53 Starlink satellites into orbit, whereas the booster made a propulsive touchdown on SpaceX’s floating drone provider “In fact I Nonetheless Love You” within the Pacific Ocean.

The touchdown marked the tip of the fifth flight (tail quantity B1063) for this booster, as Falcon 9’s higher stage adopted a coast-to-coast trajectory by way of Southern California and Baja California.

Falcon 9’s second stage fired its engine twice to position the flat-packed Starlink satellites in an roughly round orbit at an inclination of 53.2 levels to the equator, about 193 miles (310 kilometers) above Earth on common.

SpaceX’s launch group confirmed that the rocket had positioned the satellites in anticipated orbit, after which positioned the Starlink spacecraft about 62 minutes after takeoff. The handlebars launched from Falcon 9’s second stage enable Starlink satellites, every bigger than a quarter-tonne, to fly freely from the rocket.

This picture of the Falcon 9 launch from Vandenberg Area Power Base combines 22 stacked photos to trace the rocket’s trajectory because it strikes in a south-southeast course with 53 Starlink web satellites. Credit score: William G. Hartenstein

The mission was the nineteenth Falcon 9 launch of the 12 months, and the forty fifth SpaceX mission was primarily devoted to deploying satellites for the Starlink web community.

The launch from Vandenberg introduced the entire variety of Starlink satellites launched to greater than 2,547 spacecraft. This quantity consists of prototypes, failed satellites, and decommissioned spacecraft which can be not within the constellation.

Greater than 2,200 Starlink satellites are at present orbiting and working, in response to an evaluation by Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist who screens spaceflight exercise. That is about half of SpaceX’s deliberate community of first-generation 4,408 Starlink satellites.

The 4,400 satellites will span throughout 5 completely different orbital “shells” at completely different altitudes and inclinations. SpaceX, based and led by Elon Musk, has signaled that it plans to launch as many as 42,000 satellites finally.

The community sends high-speed, low-latency web alerts all over the world, reaching customers, underserved communities and different potential customers such because the US army. SpaceX says the Starlink community is now out there to customers in 32 international locations.

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