A success and new records with the second launch of 60 Starlink satellites by SpaceX

60 Starlink satellites blasting off atop a Falcon 9 rocket (Image courtesy SpaceX)
60 Starlink satellites blasting off atop a Falcon 9 rocket (Image courtesy SpaceX)

A little while ago 60 satellites of the Starlink constellation were launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral. After about an hour they were successfully deployed into their orbit at an altitude of about 280 kilometers all together and then started slowly disperse. This is SpaceX’s second mission to put the Starlink constellation into orbit to provide a global Internet connection coverage.

After the May 23, 2019 launch, when the first 60 satellites of the Starlink constellation were put into orbit, the first tests were carried out. Elon Musk stated that it will take at least 6 more launches of 60 satellites each to get minimal coverage, however the plans have been slightly modified to try to optimize the coverage of the territory. This means that they might need fewer satellites and fewer launches to provide a global Internet connection.

The first 60 Starlink satellites were already based on what’s supposed to be the final design, the 60 satellites launched today are slightly different. The changes were partly planned and partly added to solve some issues encountered during the tests of the first 60 satellites launched. The goal is to make all the satellites launched today a working part of the final constellation.

For SpaceX this is a step forward in putting the Starlink constellation into orbit and in its reuse policy about the Falcon 9 rocket. The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, also called booster, was at its fourth launch after the Iridium NEXT-7 in July 2018, the SAOCOM 1A in October 2018 and the Nusantara Satu/Beresheet missions in February 2019, the first time this happens. It landed successfully for the fourth time, on the “Of course I still love you” drone ship. In this mission there was also the first reuse of a fairing that protects the satellites during the first phase of the flight. This is the one used for the April 11 launch of the Falcon Heavy carrier rocket.

This was the first SpaceX launch since August 6. We got used to at least one launch a month but there are combinations of factors that sometimes make even SpaceX stop for a while. Today Elon Musk’s company resumed its activity with a new success that set new records with the fourth flight for a booster and the second flight for a fairing.

SpaceX's Booster B1048 after its 4th landing (Image courtesy SpaceX)
SpaceX’s Booster B1048 after its 4th landing (Image courtesy SpaceX)

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