SpaceX is preparing for its second Falcon 9 mission today. After the successful launch of a four-man crew to the International Space Station early Saturday, it will send 22 second-generation Starlink satellites into orbit at 9:05 p.m. EDT (0105 UTC).
With the success of the mission on Saturday, more than 5,000 Starlink satellites will have reached orbit. According to statistics compiled by Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who maintains a database of spaceflights, SpaceX has so far launched a total of 4,983 Starlinks.
After blasting off from Space Launch Complex 40, the Falcon 9 will fly southeast, aiming for an orbit inclined 43 degrees to the equator. After separating from the second stage about two and a half minutes into flight, the first stage booster will head down to land on the Just Read the Instructions drone ship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean east of the Bahamas.
Two burners are required for the second stage to put the satellites into the required circular orbit. The 22 satellites will be separated approximately one hour and five minutes after launch.
The first stage booster, rear number B1080, is performing its third mission. Its inaugural flight was the launch of the Axiom 2 private crew to the International Space Station earlier this year on May 21. Most recently, it was launched on July 1 with the European Space Agency’s Euclid Space Telescope.
This will be the 14th launch of the so-called V2 minisatellites, which are larger and have four times the bandwidth of previous models. The full-size V2 Starlink satellites are scheduled to be launched by SpaceX’s fully reusable Starship, but the delay in the Starship’s appearance has led to SpaceX creating a condensed version of the satellites so they can be launched on the Falcon 9.
And in early May, SpaceX announced that it had more than 1.5 million Starlink subscribers. The company’s Internet service is available in more than 60 countries.
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