Earlier this year, SpaceX managed to launch 60 satellites into the orbit for its Starlink Mission. Starlink promises to provide internet access to the world using its massive fleet of satellites. The initial launch, held in May, was successful and started off the mission on a positive footing.
However, that was only the beginning as the SpaceX aims to eventually have over 12,000 satellites encompassing the entire planet.
The 60 satellites are a lot more modest when you put things into perspective but SpaceX is starting off with a smaller number to ensure that the process of sending the satellites into the orbit is as robust as possible with minimal margin for error.
When is the launch taking place?
This is the second launch that will be taking place in the Starlink Mission. SpaceX is currently targeting for a launch on Monday, November 11 at 9:56 a.m. EST (14:56 UTC). The weather conditions for the launch are predicted to be 80% favorable so there shouldn’t be any hurdles in that regard.
However, if unforeseen circumstances that prevent the launch from happening do arise, SpaceX also has a backup launch planned which will take place on Tuesday, November 12 at 9:34 a.m. EST (14:34 UTC). The satellites will be launched from the Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. You can watch the live stream for the Starlink Mission down below.
Starlink Mission launch details
For this Starlink satellite launch, SpaceX will be using the ever-reliable Falcon 9. Earlier during the year, Falcon 9’s first stage supported the Iridium-7, SAOCOM-1A, and the Nusantara Satu missions. It was also flown on Falcon Heavy’s Arabsat-6A mission. The Falcon 9 will be the first one to fly a fourth mission and will be carrying the heaviest payload yet. It will also be the first re-flight of a fairing.
After the launch, SpaceX will attempt to land Falcon 9’s first stage on its “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship after the stage separation. This droneship will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean waiting to receive the Falcon 9. After that, SpaceX’s two fairing recovery vessels called “Ms. Tree” and “Ms. Chief” will recover the fairing halves, almost 45 minutes after liftoff.
The Starlink satellites will get deployed once they reach an altitude of 280 km. However, before they are raised to the orbit, they will be tested thoroughly by the SpaceX engineers to check whether they are operating as intended or not. Once all the checks are complete, the satellites will use their ion thrusters to move into their designated orbits and position themselves into the constellation.
What does SpaceX hope to achieve from the Starlink Mission?
With the Starlink Mission, SpaceX is hoping to develop a low latency, broadband internet system that will provide internet services to consumers all around the world. The constellation of satellites in the Starlink Mission will be positioned in low Earth orbit. This will help with reducing common relay issues like latency and reliability.
SpaceX is mainly targeting areas with little to no internet connectivity, including the rural communities and locations where internet services are just too expensive or unreliable to be feasible. However, the eventual plan is to expand into a global mesh with internet access everywhere.
Other than the launching mechanisms, SpaceX has also managed to improve the spectrum capacity since the initial launch back in May. The increased spectrum capacity, which will benefit the end-user, come as a result of upgrades in design that will maximize the usage of both the Ka and the Ku bands. In addition to that, SpaceX will also eventually make use of the V band at later stages of the mission.
The satellites themselves are also now made of 100% demisable material and will burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere by the end of their life cycle. According to SpaceX, this measure exceeds all the safety standards that are currently in place.
While the service is expected to begin in parts of the U.S and Canada after 6 launches, over 24 launches are required to reach any level of global coverage.
You can learn more about the Starlink Mission launch right here.