Watch our live coverage of the countdown and launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Starlink 5-9 mission at 1:03 AM EDT (0503 UTC) on May 14 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Space Force Station Cape Canaveral, Florida. Follow us Twitter.
An additional 56 Starlink internet satellites were installed atop a Falcon 9 rocket for liftoff early Sunday from Cape Canaveral in SpaceX’s 32nd launch of the year.
Meteorologists expect a 95% chance of good weather for the launch of the 229-foot (70-meter) Falcon 9 rocket at 1:03:50 a.m. EDT (0503:50 UTC) from Pad 40 at Station Cape Canaveral for the Space Force. In just over an hour, the Falcon 9 upper stage will launch 56 Starlink internet satellites into orbit a few hundred miles above Earth.
The mission is numbered Starlink 5-9 in the SpaceX launch sequence. With SpaceX launching Sunday, half of SpaceX’s 32 launches so far this year will be flights primarily dedicated to the Starlink broadband network, which provides high-speed, low-latency connectivity to customers around the world. SpaceX says each Starlink launch adds more than a terabit per second of capacity to the constellation.
The batch of 56 Starlink satellites will set the record for the heaviest payload ever flown by a SpaceX rocket, matching the figure set in four previous Falcon 9 missions with a full payload from a Starlink spacecraft. After the launch of Starlink 5-9, SpaceX will have sent 4,447 Starlink satellites into orbit.
SpaceX currently has more than 4,000 operating Starlink satellites in space, with more than 3,400 operating spacecraft and nearly 500 moving into operational orbits, According to tabular by Jonathan McDowellan expert in spaceflight activity tracking and an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
The rest of the Starlink satellites were failed prototypes or platforms that were retired from service and directed back into the atmosphere to burn up on return.
Sunday’s mission will continue to deploy SpaceX’s older-generation Starlink V1.5 satellites, after two launches earlier this year put a new generation of Starlink satellites into orbit. The new satellites, known as the Starlink V2 Mini design, are larger and provide four times the bandwidth capacity of the older design satellites.
The first 21 Starlink V2 Mini satellites were launched on February 27 on a Falcon 9 rocket, but some of the satellites ran into problems after reaching space. A few of the spacecraft in the first batch of Starlink V2 Mini satellites were de-orbited, and SpaceX has held others back from entering operational service. Some Starlink V2 Minis appear to be maneuvering to different locations in the Starlink constellation, presumably to start commercial Internet service, according to McDowell’s website.
The new Starlink V2 Minis carry upgraded phase array antennas, a more efficient electric thrust system and argon thrust. They also have two solar arrays, compared to the single expandable solar panel in each Starlink V1.5 spacecraft.
The Starlink V1.5 satellites on Sunday’s Starlink 5-9 mission are similar to the Starlink spacecraft that SpaceX has launched over the past several years, but they’re headed to an orbital plane, at least in organizational terms, part of SpaceX’s second-generation, or Gen2, network. .
SpaceX began launching satellites to the Gen2 network in December, starting constellations of new orbital aircraft with older-design satellites until the larger Starlink spacecraft design is ready to take over entirely.
The Starlink V2 Mini satellites that SpaceX began launching in February represent an intermediate step between the smaller Starlink V1.5 spacecraft and the larger full-size Starlink V2s, which SpaceX plans to put into orbit using the company’s new spacecraft rocket.
Starlink V2s will be able to transmit signals directly to mobile phones. But with the Starship rocket still in its experimental phase, SpaceX has begun launching Gen2 satellites on Falcon 9 rockets and has upgraded V2 Minis to fit the company’s existing launch vehicles.
Starship has nearly 10 times the payload capacity of a Falcon 9 rocket, with a larger satellite size as well.
Federal Communications granted approval for SpaceX on December 1 to launch up to 7,500 of the planned 29,988 Starlink Gen2 constellations, which will be deployed in slightly different orbits than the original Starlink fleet. The regulatory agency has delayed a decision on the remaining proposed second-generation SpaceX satellites.
Specifically, the FCC has authorized SpaceX to launch the initial mass of 7,500 Starlink Gen2 satellites into orbits at 525, 530, and 535 kilometers, with inclinations of 53, 43, and 33 degrees, respectively, using Ku-band frequencies. and Ka-band. . Sunday’s Starlink 5-9 mission will target a 43-degree inclination orbit in the constellation Starlink Gen2.
The FCC previously authorized SpaceX to launch and operate approximately 4,400 first-generation Ka-band and Ku-band Starlink spacecraft launched by SpaceX since 2019. SpaceX is in the final stages of filling out its first-generation Starlink network .
Gen2 satellites can improve Starlink’s coverage in low latitudes, and help relieve pressure on the network from increased consumer uptake. SpaceX says the network has more than 1 million active subscribers, most of whom are homes in areas where traditional fiber connectivity is unavailable, unreliable, or expensive.
One recently announced customer for Starlink Internet is Brightline, which operates commuter train service between Miami, West Palm Beach, and will soon expand to Orlando. Light line passengers, who ride trains at speeds of up to 125 miles per hour, will be able to access WiFi with Starlink.
“Brightline will be the first train group in the world to use the Starlink system,” said Kevin McAuliffe, Brightline’s chief technology and digital innovation officer.
Home and corporate consumers, airlines and cruise ship companies have already subscribed to Starlink Internet service.
“As the world’s first rail service to adopt Starlink, Brightline continues to lead the industry,” said Jonathan Hoeffler, Vice President of Starlink Commercial Sales at SpaceX. “We are excited to be working with Brightline and providing Starlink for their entire fleet, which will enable all Brightline passengers to have access to the high-speed, low-latency Internet that is so crucial in our modern age – whether you’re finishing work on your commute, keeping in touch with friends and family, or simply Film broadcast.
The first-generation Starlink network architecture includes satellites flying at an altitude of a few hundred miles, orbiting at inclinations of 97.6°, 70°, 53.2°, and 53.0° to the equator. Last year, most of SpaceX’s Starlink launches launched satellites in Shell 4, at an inclination of 53.2 degrees, after the company largely completed launches in its first 53-degree inclination structure in 2021.
During Sunday night’s countdown, the SpaceX launch team will be stationed inside the Launch Control Center south of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station to monitor key systems on the Falcon 9 rocket and at the launch pad. SpaceX will begin loading ultra-cold condensed kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants into the Falcon 9 vehicle in T-minus 35 minutes.
Helium pressure will also flow into the rocket in the last half hour of the countdown. In the final seven minutes before liftoff, Merlin’s Falcon 9 main engines will be thermally conditioned for flight through a procedure known as a “chilldown”. The Falcon 9’s guidance and field safety systems will also be configured for launch.
After liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket will direct its 1.7 million pounds of thrust — produced by nine Merlin engines — to steer into the Southeast Atlantic. The Falcon 9 rocket will exceed the speed of sound in about one minute, then shut down its nine main engines two and a half minutes after liftoff. The booster stage will separate from the Falcon 9’s upper stage, then pulses from cool-gas control thrusters will fire and extend titanium grille fins to help guide the vehicle back into the atmosphere.
Two brake burners will slow the missile as it lands on the drone ship. The reusable booster, designated B1067 in SpaceX inventory, will fly on its 11th flight into space Sunday.
The Falcon 9’s reusable payload supply will be discarded during the second stage burn. There is also a salvage ship on station in the Atlantic Ocean to recover the nose cone halves after they fall off under parachutes.
The first-stage landing will occur just as the Falcon 9’s second-stage engine cuts out to deliver the Starlink satellites to a primary parking orbit. The other upper stage burns 54 minutes into the mission, which reconfigured orbit before the payload separation.
The Starlink 56 spacecraft, built by SpaceX in Redmond, Washington, is scheduled to separate from a Falcon 9 rocket approximately 65 minutes after liftoff.
The Falcon 9’s guidance computer aims to deploy the satellites into an orbit at an inclination of 43 degrees to the equator, at an altitude of between 185 miles and 211 miles (298 by 340 kilometers). After separating from the rocket, the Starlink 56 spacecraft will unfold its solar arrays, run it through automated activation steps, then use its krypton-fueled ion engines to maneuver into its operational orbit 329 miles (530 kilometers) above Earth.
rocket: Falcon 9 (B1067.11)
Payload: 56 Starlink satellites (Starlink 5-9)
Launch site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Station, Florida
Lunch date: May 14, 2023
launch time: 1:03:50 a.m. EST (0503:50 GMT)
weather forecast: 95% chance of fair weather; low risk of upper level winds; Reduced risk of conditions unfavorable to an enhanced recovery
Recovery from boost: Drone vessel named “A Shortfall of Gravitas” northeast of the Bahamas
AZIMUTH LAUNCH: southeast
target orbit: 185 miles by 211 miles (298 kilometers by 340 kilometers), 43.0 degrees
- T+00:00: take off
- T+01:12: Max Air Pressure (Max-Q)
- T+02:28: Main Engine Cutoff Phase 1 (MICO)
- T+02:31: Phase separation
- T+02:38: Second stage engine ignition (SES 1)
- T+02:46: Quiet out
- T+06:13: First stage entry burner ignition (three engines)
- T+06:32: First stage entry afterburner cut off
- T+08:08: First stage combustion ignition (single engine)
- T+08:29: First stage landing
- T+08:36: Second stage engine cut off (SECO 1)
- T+54:05: Second stage engine ignition (SES 2)
- T+54:07: Second Stage Engine Cut Off (SECO 2)
- T+1:04:53: Starlink satellite disconnected
- The 223rd launch of the Falcon 9 since 2010
- The 234th launch of the Falcon family since 2006
- Eleventh launch of Falcon 9 Booster B1067
- Flight 165 of the repurposed Falcon booster
- SpaceX launch 189 from the Florida Space Coast
- The 124th Falcon 9 launch from Pad 40
- 179th launch overall from the 40th board
- The Falcon 9 84 launch is primarily for the Starlink network
- The twenty-ninth Falcon 9 launch in 2023
- The 32nd launch by SpaceX in 2023
- 23rd orbital launch attempt from Cape Canaveral in 2023
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