On Saturday, the Falcon 9 heavy launch vehicle launched into orbit with another batch of 53 mini-satellites to replenish the orbital constellation of the global Internet coverage network of the Starlink system. This will be the 12th launch of this first stage of the Falcon 9, setting a new record for SpaceX rocket reuse. The booster had previously lifted off CSA’s Radarsat Constellation mission in June 2019; SpaceX’s first manned flight, the Experimental Mission 2 to the International Space Station in May 2020; SiriusXM’s SXM-7 satellite in December 2020; And eight other Starlink missions
The launch was carried out at 00:42 US East Coast time (07:42 Moscow time) from the 40th launch complex at the Cape Canaveral launch site in Florida.
This is already the 42nd launch of a group of Internet satellites into orbit since May 2019 as part of the Starlink project and the 3rd in March.
Starlink Internet satellites weighing 290 kg each will be part of the SpaceX orbital constellation, which already has more than 2.2 thousand spacecraft. The company is currently the largest satellite operator in the world.
About an hour after launch, 53 satellites will separate from the second stage of the rocket in an elliptical transfer orbit up to 340 km high. After SpaceX engineers check their performance, satellites using their own ion engines will rise to a regular orbit with an altitude of about 540 km.
The reusable first stage of the American Falcon 9 launch vehicle, which is already being used for launches for the 12th time, is supposed to make a controlled vertical landing on the Just Read the Instructions floating drone platform, which is located in the Atlantic 650 km from spaceport.
In addition, special SpaceX rescue vessels will have to fish out two flaps of the rocket head fairing from the water, which, after separation, will descend by parachute. Reusing the fairing saves SpaceX up to $6 million in rocket launches.