SpaceX launches the heaviest payload on the Falcon 9 rocket – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX launches the heaviest payload on the Falcon 9 rocket – 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 ground systems,” the statement wrote. FCC in its December 1 statement. 1 order partially approving the Starlink Gen2 constellation. “Our action will also enable broadband satellite 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 Gen2 launch last month, the Starlink 5-2 mission on Thursday targeted the 530-kilometer-high (329 miles) orbit with an inclination of 43 degrees from the equator.

The Starlink 5-2 mission will add 56 more satellites to SpaceX’s Starlink Internet network. Credit: Spaceflight Now

SpaceX currently has nearly 3,400 Starlink satellites in operation in space, with more than 3,100 operational and approximately 200 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 and 5-2, seems to suggest that SpaceX has changed the naming scheme for Starlink projectiles.

The SpaceX launch team was stationed inside a launch control center just south of the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station for Thursday’s pre-dawn 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 “relaxation.” The Falcon 9’s range and guidance safety systems were also configured for launch.

After liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket vectored 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 of Cape Canaveral, rather than northeasterly trajectories, to take advantage of better sea conditions for landing the Falcon 9 first-stage booster.

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

Two braking starts slowed the rocket to land on the “Just Read the Instructions” drone around 410 miles (660 kilometers) about nine minutes after liftoff. The reusable booster, designated B1067 in SpaceX inventory, completed its ninth journey into space 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 halves of the nose cone 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 launch the Starlink satellites into orbit.

The separation of the 56 Starlink spacecraft, built by SpaceX in Redmond, Washington, from the Falcon 9 rocket occurred 19 minutes after liftoff. SpaceX’s ground team waited to confirm the spacecraft’s deployment milestone when the rocket passed within range of a tracking station in Australia about an hour after liftoff.

The Falcon 9 guidance computer aimed to deploy the satellites in an elliptical orbit inclined 43 degrees to the equator, with altitude ranging from 131 miles to 209 miles (212 by 337 kilometers). After separating from the rocket, the 56 Starlink spacecraft will deploy solar arrays and execute automated activation steps, then use ion engines to maneuver into its operational orbit.

ROCKET: Falcon 9 (B1067.9)

USEFUL LOAD: 56 Starlink satellites (Starlink 5-2)

LAUNCH SITE: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida

RELEASE DATE: Jan 26, 2023

LUNCH TIME: 4:32:20 a.m. EST (0932:20 GMT)

WEATHER FORECAST: 70% chance of acceptable weather; Low to moderate risk of high level winds; Low risk of unfavorable conditions for booster recovery

BOOSTER RECOVERY: Drone boat “Just read the instructions” northeast of the Bahamas


TARGET ORBIT: 131 miles by 209 miles (212 kilometers by 337 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+02:42: Fairing removal
  • T+06:42: 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+08:43: Second stage engine shutdown (DRY 1)
  • T+08:44: First stage landing
  • T+18:49: Separation of Starlink satellites


  • Launch number 199 of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
  • 209th launch of the Falcon family of rockets since 2006
  • Ninth launch of the Falcon 9 B1067 booster
  • Launch number 171 of Falcon 9 from the Space Coast of Florida
  • Launch of the 111th Falcon 9 from Pad 40
  • Launch 166 overall from platform 40
  • Flight 141 of a repurposed Falcon 9 booster
  • Falcon 9 69th launch dedicated primarily to the Starlink network
  • Falcon 9 fifth launch of 2023
  • SpaceX’s sixth launch in 2023
  • Fifth orbital launch attempt based at Cape Canaveral in 2023

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