SpaceX launches heaviest payload on Falcon 9 rocket – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX launches heaviest payload on Falcon 9 rocket – Spaceflight Now

“Our action enables SpaceX to deploy 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 terrestrial systems,” the statement wrote. FCC partially in its December 1 order. approval of the Starlink Gen2 constellation. “Our action will also enable global satellite broadband services, closing the digital divide on a global scale.

“At the same time, this limited grant and its terms and 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 are suspending action on the rest of the SpaceX application at this time.”

In particular, the FCC has granted SpaceX permission to launch the first block of 7,500 Starlink Gen2 satellites into orbit at 525, 530 and 535 kilometers, with inclinations of 53, 43 and 33 degrees, respectively, using Ku-band and Ka-band frequencies. The FCC delayed 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 mi) orbit with an inclination of 43 degrees relative to the equator.

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

SpaceX currently has nearly 3,400 functioning Starlink satellites in space, with more than 3,100 operational and about 200 in their operational orbits. according to a table 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 flying several hundred miles up, in orbits with inclinations of 97.6 degrees, 70 degrees, 53.2 degrees, and 53.0 degrees relative to the equator. Most of SpaceX’s recent Starlink launches have released satellites in Shell 4, with an inclination of 53.2 degrees, after the company largely completed launches in its first 53-degree inclination shell last year.

Shell 5 of the Starlink network was generally believed to be one of the constellation’s polar layers, with an inclination angle of 97.6 degrees. But the name of the first Gen2 missions – Starlink 5-1 and 5-2 – seems to suggest that SpaceX changed the naming scheme for the Starlink shells.

The SpaceX launch team was stationed at a launch control center just south of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station for Thursday’s dawn countdown. SpaceX began loading supercooled, compressed kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants into the Falcon 9 vehicle at T-minus 35 minutes.

Helium propellant also poured into the rocket in the last half hour of the countdown. In the last seven minutes before launch, the Falcon 9’s Merlin main engines were thermally conditioned for flight through a procedure known as “chilldown”. The Falcon 9’s guidance and range safety systems were also configured for launch.

After launch, the Falcon 9 rocket sent its 1.7 million pounds of thrust — produced by nine Merlin engines — to steer southeast across the Atlantic. SpaceX resumed launches this winter using Cape Canaveral’s southeast corridor, rather than northeastward trajectories, to take advantage of better sea conditions for the landing of the Falcon 9’s first stage booster.

Throughout the summer and fall, SpaceX launched Starlink missions on trails to the northeast from Florida’s Space Coast.

The Falcon 9 rocket exceeded the speed of sound in about a minute and then shut down its nine main engines two and a half minutes after launch. The booster stage separated from the Falcon 9’s upper stage and then fired pulses from cold gas control thrusters with extended titanium grille fins to send the vehicle back into the atmosphere.

Two braking burns slowed the missile for landing on the drone ship “Just Read the Instructions” about 410 miles (660 kilometers) downrange about nine minutes after launch. The reusable booster, designated B1067 in SpaceX’s inventory, completed its ninth trip to space on Thursday.

The Falcon 9’s reusable fairing was jettisoned during the second stage burn. A salvage ship was also on station in the Atlantic to retrieve the two halves of the nose cone after they crashed under parachutes.

The landing of the first stage on Thursday’s mission occurred just as the Falcon 9’s second stage engine stalled to launch the Starlink satellites into orbit.

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

The Falcon 9’s guidance computer aimed to place the satellites in an elliptical orbit with an inclination of 43 degrees relative to the equator, with altitudes varying between 131 miles and 209 miles (212 by 337 kilometers). After separating from the rocket, the 56 Starlink spacecraft will deploy solar arrays and go through automated activation steps, then use ion engines to maneuver into their operational orbit.

ROCKET SHIP: Falcon 9 (B1067.9)

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

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

LAUNCH DATE: January 26, 2023

LAUNCH TIME: 04:32:20 EST (0932:20 GMT)

WEATHER FORECAST: 70% chance of acceptable weather; Low to moderate risk of upper-level wind; Low risk of adverse booster recovery conditions

BOOSTER RECOVERY: Drone ship “Just Read the Instructions” northeast of the Bahamas


GOAL JOB: 131 miles by 209 miles (212 kilometers by 337 kilometers), incline of 43.0 degrees


  • T+00:00: Launch
  • T+01:12: Maximum Aerodynamic Pressure (Max-Q)
  • T+02:28: First stage main motor shutdown (MECO)
  • T+02:31: Step separation
  • T+02:38: Second stage engine ignition
  • T+02:42: Throw cockpit overboard
  • T+06:42: Step-in ignition first stage (three engines)
  • T+07:00: First stage entrance burn
  • T+08:23: Fire ignition first stage landing (one engine)
  • T+08:43: Engine cut second stage (SECO 1)
  • T+08:44: First stage landing
  • T+18:49: Starlink satellite separation


  • 199th Falcon 9 rocket launch since 2010
  • 209th launch of the Falcon family of rockets since 2006
  • 9th launch of Falcon 9 booster B1067
  • Launch of the 171st Falcon 9 from Florida’s Space Coast
  • 111th Falcon 9 launch from pad 40
  • 166th general launch from Pad 40
  • 141st flight of a repurposed Falcon 9 booster
  • 69th Falcon 9 launch dedicated mainly to the Starlink network
  • 5th Falcon 9 launch of 2023
  • 6th launch by SpaceX in 2023
  • 5th orbital launch attempt from Cape Canaveral in 2023

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