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SpaceX launches 53 more Starlink satellites – Spaceflight Now

Live coverage of the countdown and launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The Starlink 4-16 mission launched SpaceX’s next batch of 53 Starlink broadband satellites. Follow us Twitter.

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SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket at 5:27 pm EDT (2127 GMT) on Friday from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. A booster that previously flew just 21 days ago propelled 53 more Starlink internet satellites into space.

There was an 80% chance of favorable weather for Friday’s liftoff on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 mission 151 and flight 43 dedicated primarily to carrying Starlink satellites. The main weather concern was cumulus clouds.

But the weather cooperated for a launch on time Friday afternoon.

The first-stage booster, tail number B1062, landed on the “Just Read the Instructions” drone ship located approximately east of Charleston, South Carolina, approximately eight and a half minutes after launch.

SpaceX crews at Cape Canaveral rolled the Falcon 9 rocket from its hangar to Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral and lifted it vertically early Friday morning. Starting at T-minus 35 minutes, the launch team oversaw the loading of liquid oxygen and kerosene propellants into the Falcon 9 via an automated computer-controlled sequencer.

Pressurized helium also flowed into the rocket. In the final seven minutes of the countdown, the Falcon 9’s Merlin main engines were thermally conditioned for flight through a procedure known as “cool down.” The Falcon 9’s range and guidance safety systems were also set for the 5:27 p.m. launch.

The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) Falcon 9 rocket turned to fly northeast from Cape Canaveral over the Atlantic Ocean.

The rocket exceeded the speed of sound in about a minute and then shut down all nine of its main engines two and a half minutes after liftoff. The booster detached and fired pulses from the cold gas control thrusters, then extended the titanium grid fins to help steer the vehicle back into the atmosphere and used brake burns with its main engines to slow down for landing. on the drone about 400 miles (650 kilometers). ) low range.

This booster launched on its sixth mission, following a debut flight in November 2020 with a GPS navigation satellite and another GPS launch in June last year. It flew again on September 14 on the totally private crew mission Inspiration4, and carried a Starlink mission into space on January 6, before its most recent flight on April 8 on Axiom’s Ax-1 commercial crew mission to the space station

A Falcon 9 rocket sits on pad 40 on Friday. Credit: William Harwood/CBS News

Continuing the flight into orbit, the Falcon 9’s upper stage engine shut down almost nine minutes into the mission, moments after the first stage’s landing in the Atlantic Ocean.

After sailing across the North Atlantic, over Europe and the Middle East, then across the Indian Ocean, the upper stage re-ignited its engine for a brief two-second burst to maneuver all 53 Starlink satellites into the proper orbit for launch. separation.

The Falcon 9 guidance computer launched the flat panel satellites just an hour after launch. The launcher was aimed at an orbit between 189 miles and 197 miles (304 by 317 kilometers) above Earth, with an inclination of 53.2 degrees relative to the equator.

The Starlink satellites will expand solar arrays and use onboard ion thrusters to reach their operational orbit at an altitude of 540 kilometers (335 miles), where they will enter commercial service for SpaceX.

Following Thursday’s mission, SpaceX has launched 2,441 Starlink satellites to date, including spacecraft that were decommissioned or suffered failures. More than 2,100 of those satellites are in orbit and operational as of Friday, according to a list maintained by Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist who closely follows spaceflight activity.

Read our mission preview story for more details.

ROCKET: Falcon 9 (B1060.12)

USEFUL LOAD: 53 Starlink satellites (Starlink 4-16)

LAUNCH SITE: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida

RELEASE DATE: April 29, 2022

LUNCH TIME: 17:27:10 EDT (2127:10 GMT)

WEATHER FORECAST: 80% chance of fair weather; Low risk of unfavorable conditions for reinforcement recovery

BOOSTER RECOVERY: “Just Read The Instructions” Unmanned Boat East of Charleston, South Carolina

LAUNCH AZIMUTH: northeast

TARGET ORBIT: 189 miles by 197 miles (304 kilometers by 317 kilometers), 53.2 degree incline

LAUNCH SCHEDULE:

  • T+00:00: Takeoff
  • T+01:12: Maximum aerodynamic pressure (Max-Q)
  • T+02:31: First stage main engine cut-off (MECO)
  • T+02:35: Separation of stages
  • T+02:42: Second stage engine ignition
  • T+02:50: Fairing Removal
  • T+06:13: First stage inlet burn ignition (three engines)
  • T+06:32: First stage entrance burn cut
  • T+08:02: Burn ignition on first stage landing (one engine)
  • T+08:24: Landing first stage
  • T+08:49: Second stage motor cut-off (DRY 1)
  • T+45:22: Restart of the second stage
  • T+45:24: Second stage motor cutoff (DRY 2)
  • T+59:30: Separation of Starlink satellites

MISSION STATISTICS:

  • 151st launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
  • 159th launch of the Falcon rocket family since 2006
  • Sixth Falcon 9 B1062 booster launch
  • 132nd launch of the Falcon 9 from the Florida Space Coast
  • Launch of the 85th Falcon 9 from Pad 40
  • 140th release overall from platform 40
  • Flight 94 of a repurposed Falcon 9 booster
  • 43rd dedicated launch of Falcon 9 with Starlink satellites
  • 17th Falcon 9 launch of 2022
  • SpaceX’s 17th launch in 2022
  • 17th orbital launch based at Cape Canaveral in 2022

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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