CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida – A SpaceX The Falcon 9 rocket launched in a record 8th flight to send a new fleet of the company’s Starlink Internet satellites into orbit on Wednesday (January 20th) and then landed at sea.
The Falcon 9 rocket took off from historic site 39A here at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at 8:02 a.m. EDT (1202 GMT), carrying 60 new Starlink satellites for the rising constellation of SpaceX in orbit. The launch came two days late due to bad weather in the recovery area and the need for additional pre-flight checks.
Approximately 9 minutes after takeoff, the first stage of the Falcon 9 returned to Earth, landing on one of SpaceX̵
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Today’s mission was originally scheduled to explode on Monday (January 18th), but was pushed back 24 hours to allow weather to improve in the recovery area. SpaceX relies heavily on its fleet of reusable rockets, so the company wants to make sure that every catch after launch is successful.
On Tuesday (January 19th), the company decided it needed another day to launch the missile through some additional pre-launch crates, as this was the first time one of the Falcon 9 boosters from the first phase of the flight had been flew a record 8 times.
The delay proved fruitful as veteran Falcon 9 jumped off the field on Wednesday for his 8th mission. He landed on “Just Read the Instructions” in the Atlantic Ocean, marking the 72nd landing of a SpaceX rocket.
The rocket featured in this launch is one of two accelerators to set records in SpaceX’s Falcon 9 fleet. Known as the B1051, this proven flight booster is the first of the SpaceX fleet to make its 8th flight. It also marks one of the shortest execution times of SpaceX between flights, such as this particular booster last flight a little over a month ago on December 13th.
To date, B1051 has an assortment of payloads, including the unscrewed Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station as part of a 2019 flight test, followed by a trio of Earth observation satellites to Canada as well as four different Starlink missions. In its flight on December 13, the rocket carried 15,432 pounds. (7,000 kilograms) satellite in orbit for Sirius XM, which will transmit content to Sirius subscribers in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.
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Today’s launch marks the 102nd flight in total for SpaceX’s two-stage Falcon 9 rocket, as well as the company’s 72nd successful landing. SpaceX has two fully operational drone landing platforms – “Of course I still love you” and “Just read the instructions” – in Florida, which allows it to launch (and land) more rockets.
The company’s first drone, “Of course I still love you,” was recently repaired after a busy 2020. It is currently in the designated recovery zone for SpaceX’s Transporter-1 mission (due later this month). ) newer “Just read the instructions” caught its second booster of the year today.
The current iteration of SpaceX on its Falcon 9 rocket came into operation in 2018, as it launched a communications satellite into orbit for Bangladesh. Known as Block 5, this fictional version of the Falcon 9 has a number of improvements – including a more robust thermal protection system, titanium grilles, and more durable inter-stage operation that facilitates reuse.
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As such, SpaceX has relied heavily on its veteran rocket fleet after reloading a total of 50 first-stage boosters in five years. (The California-based aerospace company restored its first booster in 2015.) In 2020, the company completed 26 flights, 22 of which were on reusable rockets.
The company lost two boosters in drone misses in early 2020, but has since captured every booster landed on SpaceX’s two massive drones. In SpaceX’s rocket fleet, it has eight veterans, as well as several boosters designed to fly as part of the company’s iteration of heavy lifts. Falcon Heavy.
SpaceX aims to help humanity become a multiplanetary species. To help fund its ambitions for Mars, the company has developed a plan to cover the Earth with Internet coverage broadcast by a cohesive menagerie of broadband satellites. This megaconstellation is expected to consist of thousands of satellites flying near the planet in a region of space called a low-Earth orbit.
By using a small terminal (no larger than a laptop), ground users will be able to connect to the ever-growing network, which is is currently still in beta.
The Internet satellite network will be a way for SpaceX and its CEO, Elon Muskto generate revenue for exploring Mars and the necessary hardware, such as its massive Starship, which is currently being developed at Boca Chica’s South Texas facility and its Super Heavy booster. Musk estimates that Starlink could generate up to $ 30 billion a year, although no firm prices have been announced yet.
With this launch, the company will send into space more than 1,000 of its original set of 1,400 of the quarter-tone flat panel satellites – more than enough for SpaceX to begin offering its service.
But the company doesn’t stop there. It has plans for a massive satellite constellation with tens of thousands of satellites flying over Earth and emitting high-speed, low-latency Internet signals. To date, the Federal Communications Commission has authorized SpaceX to launch up to 12,000 broadband Internet satellites, but the company said it would seek approval to launch about 30,000 of its Internet beam satellites.
There are still many regulatory hurdles to overcome and launch more satellites before the service can be offered globally, but initial testing is promising. So promising, in fact, that SpaceX recently received approval from the British telecommunications company Ofcom to expand its Better Than Nothing beta test program to the United Kingdom. SpaceX also signed a remote public school district in Virginia, as well as its first client in Canada, the Pikangikum First Nation reservation.
Falling rocket fairings
SpaceX flies with a flight with a proven flight load (also known as a rocket nose cone) on that flight. The hardware used protected the stack of Starlink satellites as they flew through the atmosphere.
Both halves represent 10% of the total cost of the vehicle and their reuse allows SpaceX to reduce costs. For this purpose, each fairing can move back to Earth, where it will burst into the ocean or land in a giant net attached to a recovery ship.
SpaceX has two such mobile gripping devices – GO Ms. Tree and GO Ms. Chief. Both boats were deployed this time and hung in the port of Morehead City, North Carolina, until SpaceX was ready to launch this mission.
The duo will take both pieces out of the water and try to use them again sometime in the future, company officials said during the live broadcast.
The next mission for SpaceX is a riding mission called Transporter-1, which should explode immediately on Friday (January 22).
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