Forecasters have predicted a 60 percent chance of launching a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday to bring more Starlink broadband satellites into orbit.
Launch – Thursday 2:19 p.m. (1819 GMT) – 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 in orbit.
Like the previous Starlink launch, a 229-foot (70-meter) Falcon 9 rocket northeast of the Florida Space Coast has a 1.7 million-pound thrust from 9 Merlin main engines, followed by its first stage booster. About two-a. – A few minutes in flight.
The second phase of the Falcon 9 is likely to catch fire twice before the release of a single Merlin engine stack of Starlink satellites between 172 miles (278 kilometers) and 162 miles (261 kilometers), with a tilt of 53. . Degree, according to initial forecasts.
The 60 Starlink satellites are scheduled to be launched from the rocket about 61 minutes after launch.
SpaceX plans to retrieve the Falcon 9 aboard the drone ship “Just Read the Direction”, located northeast of Cape Canaveral in the Atlantic Ocean, almost east of Charleston, South Carolina. Curious landing of the first stage is expected about eight minutes after the lift.
The first phase, to be launched on Thursday, has seen the last two flights, including the launch of two NASA astronauts on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule on May 30 and the launch of South Korea’s Anasis 2 military communications satellite on July 20. . Half of the payload coffin-like payload on Thursday’s mission is also older than the previous two Falcon 9 / Starlink launches, according to SpaceX.
SpaceX plans to recover payload fairings from Thursday’s launch. The two parts of the shroud are designed for parachute landing.
The mission will signal the 13th launch of the Starlink satellites on Thursday, as SpaceX began deploying the network in May 2019. The latest launch of SpaceX took place on September 3 with the last 60 Starlink satellites.
The official weather forecast released Wednesday by Cape Canaveral by the 45th Weather Squadron called for a 60 percent chance of a good 9-ball landing on Thursday. The primary concern for the weather will be Thursday afternoon with the Cumulus and Anil clouds associated with the storm.
If delayed until early Friday, the forecast has a 40 percent chance of weather clearances.
SpaceX is finally planning to launch thousands of Starlink satellites, but Starlink’s first stronghold will number 1,440 spacecraft, according to Jonathan Hoffler, vice president of Starlink and commercial sales at SpaceX.
“The total global date we are targeting is 1,440 satellites, many of which are already in orbit,” Hoffler said.
Some satellites, including the last star Starlink launched strings, are being moved to lower altitudes and have become dorbit.
Each flat-panel Starlink satellite weighs about a quarter ton, and is built at a SpaceX facility in Redmond, Washington, near Seattle. Increasing the rewards for hardware manufacturing within SpaceX, the aerospace company is building its own Starlink satellites, user terminals and ground stations.
SpaceX’s Starlink megaconstellation is already the world’s largest fleet of satellites, but hundreds more will be launched in the coming months.
Hoffler said last month that SpaceX is building six Starlink spacecraft daily, and plans to launch Starlink missions every two to three weeks until it completes the initial Starlink network of about 1,440 satellites.
SpaceX has received regular approval from the Federal Communications Commission to run about 12,000 Starlink satellites to operate the planet with high-speed, low-latency Internet signals. SpaceX also hinted at plans to launch 30,000 additional Starlink satellites in addition to the 12,000 already approved to be filed with the International Telecommunication Union.
The Starlink Network is one of two major development projects chasing SpaceX, with the company’s next-generation Starship super-heavy-lift rocket.
In a discussion at the Ascend Space Science and Technology Summit last month, Hoffler said private beta testing is revolving around the Pacific Northwest. With about 700 satellites, the Starlink network has enough coverage to provide users with high-distance connectivity, but more launches are needed to expand the coverage to other areas.
SpaceX has asked those interested in participating in the public beta test phase to sign up. Starlink website.
Now with the beta testing program, SpaceX is collecting latency data and testing speed. The company says it is pleased with the preliminary results.
SpaceX said earlier this month that tests so far have shown a “super low uniqueness” in the network, with download speeds exceeding 100 megabytes per second. According to SpaceX, it’s too fast to stream many HD movies at once, and still avoid bandwidth.
SpaceX has also begun testing spacecraft with inter-satellite laser links, which could eventually allow data traffic to flow through the network without the ground relay stations. The first batch of Starlink satellites did not have inter-satellite links
Hoffler hinted at upgraded Starlink satellites in his Virtual Presentation at the Second Space Science and Technology Summit last month.
“With 1,440 satellites, we have 24/7 global coverage, and the plan is not to stop there,” Hoffler said. “We will continue to launch, and with each launch, we can maximize capacity. There is never enough capacity. You can’t limit what your kids want to see, and what your family wants to use. So we will continue to build the network. ”
According to Hoffler, SpaceX will destroy older Starlink satellites as upgraded spacecraft arrive online.
After launching on Thursday, SpaceX’s next mission is set to land on Pad 30 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on September 30, when a Falcon 9 rocket will deploy the US Space Force’s next GPS navigation satellite.
Email the author.
Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: Stephen Clark 1.