SpaceX Launches 53 More Starlink Internet Satellites – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX Launches 53 More Starlink Internet Satellites – Spaceflight Now
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“Our action will allow SpaceX to begin deployment of Gen2 Starlink, which will bring next-generation satellite broadband to Americans across the country, including those who live and work in areas traditionally underserved or underserved by terrestrial systems,” the statement wrote. FCC in its December 1 statement. 1 order partially approving the Starlink Gen2 constellation. “Our action will also enable satellite broadband service around the world, helping to bridge the digital divide on a global scale.

“At the same time, this limited grant and associated conditions will protect other satellite and terrestrial operators from harmful interference and maintain a safe space environment, promote competition, and protect spectrum and orbital resources for future use,” the FCC wrote. “We defer action on the remainder of SpaceX’s application at this time.”

Specifically, the FCC granted SpaceX the authority to launch the initial block 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 and Ka-band frequencies. . The FCC has deferred a decision on SpaceX’s request to operate Starlink Gen2 satellites in higher and lower orbits.

Like the first two Gen2 releases, on December 1st. 28 and jan On February 26, the Starlink 5-3 mission on Thursday targeted the 530-kilometer-high (329 miles) orbit with an inclination of 43 degrees from the equator.

SpaceX currently has nearly 3,500 Starlink satellites in operation in space, with more than 3,100 operational and approximately 300 moving in their operational orbits. according to a tabulation by Jonathan McDowellan expert tracker of spaceflight activity and an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

The first-generation Starlink network architecture includes satellites that fly a few hundred miles high, orbiting at inclinations of 97.6 degrees, 70 degrees, 53.2 degrees, and 53.0 degrees to the equator. Most of SpaceX’s recent Starlink launches have launched satellites in Shell 4, with a 53.2-degree inclination, after the company largely completed launches in the first 53-degree inclination shell last year.

Shell 5 of the Starlink network was widely believed to be one of the constellation’s polar orbiting layers, with an inclination of 97.6 degrees. But the naming of the first Gen2 missions, Starlink 5-1, 5-2 and 5-3, seems to suggest that SpaceX has changed the naming scheme for Starlink projectiles.

The Starlink 5-3 mission brought 53 satellites to SpaceX’s Starlink Gen2 network. Credit: Spaceflight Now

The SpaceX launch team was stationed inside Firing Room 4 at the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Control Center for Thursday night’s countdown. SpaceX began loading supercooled densified kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants onto the Falcon 9 vehicle in T-minus 35 minutes.

Pressurized helium also flowed into the rocket in the last half hour of the countdown. In the last seven minutes before takeoff, the Falcon 9’s Merlin main engines were thermally conditioned for flight through a procedure known as “relaxing.” The Falcon 9’s range and guidance safety systems were also configured for launch.

After liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket directed its 1.7 million pounds of thrust, produced by nine Merlin engines, to head southeast over the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX has resumed launches this winter using the southeast corridor from Cape Canaveral, rather than northeasterly trajectories, to take advantage of better sea conditions for the Falcon 9 first-stage booster landing.

Throughout the summer and fall, SpaceX launched Starlink missions on paths northeast from Florida’s Space Coast.

The Falcon 9 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 stage separates from the Falcon 9 upper stage, then pulses are fired from cold gas control thrusters and extended titanium grid fins to help steer the vehicle back into the atmosphere.

Two braking starts slowed the rocket down to land on the “A Shortfall of Gravitas” drone around 410 miles (660 kilometers) about nine minutes after liftoff. The reusable booster, designated B1069 in SpaceX inventory, launched and landed for the fifth time in its career on Thursday.

The Falcon 9’s reusable payload fairing was scrapped during the second stage burn. A recovery ship was also on station in the Atlantic to recover the two nose cone halves after they parachuted down.

The first stage landing on Thursday’s mission occurred just as the Falcon 9’s second stage engine shut down to place the Starlink satellites into a parking orbit. Another brief upper stage engine fire injected the Starlink payloads into a more circular orbit, preparing for a maneuver to deploy the satellites.

The separation of the 53 Starlink spacecraft, built by SpaceX in Redmond, Washington, from the Falcon 9 rocket was confirmed around 64 minutes after liftoff.

The Falcon 9 guidance computer aimed to deploy the satellites in a nearly circular orbit inclined 43 degrees to the equator, with an altitude ranging from 202 miles to 213 miles (325 by 343 kilometers). After separating from the rocket, the 53 Starlink spacecraft will deploy solar arrays and execute automated activation steps, then use ion engines to maneuver into its 329-mile-altitude operational orbit.

ROCKET: Falcon 9 (B1069.5)

USEFUL LOAD: 53 Starlink satellites (Starlink 5-3)

LAUNCH SITE: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

RELEASE DATE: Feb 2, 2023

LUNCH TIME: 02:58:20 am EST (07:58:20 GMT)

WEATHER FORECAST: Greater than 90% chance of acceptable weather; Low to moderate risk of high level winds; Low risk of unfavorable conditions for booster recovery

BOOSTER RECOVERY: Drone boat “A Shortfall of Gravitas” in the northeast of the Bahamas


TARGET ORBIT: 202 miles by 213 miles (325 kilometers by 343 kilometers), 43.0 degrees of incline


  • T+00:00: Takeoff
  • T+01:12: Maximum aerodynamic pressure (Max-Q)
  • T+02:28: First stage main engine shutdown (MECO)
  • T+02:31: Separation of stages
  • T+02:38: Second stage engine ignition
  • T+02:43: Fairing removal
  • T+06:41: Ignition by first stage input burnout (three engines)
  • T+07:00: First stage input burn cut
  • T+08:23: First stage landing burnout ignition (one engine)
  • T+08:35: Second stage engine shutdown (DRY 1)
  • T+08:44: First stage landing
  • T+1:03:56: Separation of Starlink satellites


  • 201st launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
  • 211th launch of the Falcon family of rockets since 2006
  • Fifth launch of the Falcon 9 B1069 booster
  • Falcon 9 launch number 172 from the space coast of Florida
  • SpaceX’s 61st launch from Pad 39A
  • Launch number 155 overall from Pad 39A
  • Flight 142 of a repurposed Falcon 9 booster
  • Launch of the 71st Falcon 9 dedicated primarily to the Starlink network
  • Falcon 9 seventh launch of 2023
  • Eighth SpaceX launch in 2023
  • Sixth orbital launch attempt based at Cape Canaveral in 2023

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