SpaceX is launching 60 Starlink Satellites Monday (Nov. 11) from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. These new satellites will debut performance and safety upgrades for SpaceX’s broadband network, joining 60 other satellites that were launched last May.
The launch begins at 9:56 a.m. EST, 14:56 UTC, with the live stream starting about 15 minutes before liftoff. According to the press release, the SpaceX will land Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship and about 45 minutes after liftoff, SpaceX’s two fairing recovery vessels, “Ms. Tree” and “Ms. Chief,” will attempt to recover the two fairing halves.
The satellites will deploy into orbit at an altitude of 280 km (about 174 miles). Once the SpaceX engineers have checked to ensure that all the satellites are operating as intended, the satellites will then use their onboard ion thrusters to move into their intended orbits. Each satellite weighs about 260 kg (573 lbs), which combine to form the heaviest payload ever launched by Space X at over 15.6 metric tons (34,000 lbs).
These satellites are being put in place because Space X is developing a broadband internet system for consumers around the world. It will be able to provide internet to populations who currently have little to no connectivity, including those in rural areas where existing service is too expensive or too unreliable. Starlink is initially targeting service in the U.S. and Canada after six launches, which will rapidly expand to global service after 24 launches. Components of all each satellite are 100 percent demisable and will quickly burn up in Earth’s atmosphere at the end of the life cycle.
Ahead of the launch, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk offered his Twitter followers some beautiful sunset shots of Starlink’s vertical rocket sitting on the launch pad. But did he use Starlink’s broadband internet to send the tweet?
Back on Oct. 22, Musk sent a tweet using the Starlink broadband connection already in place via the initial 60 satellites, following that up with a delighted, “Whoa, it worked!”
Also on Oct. 22, coinciding with when Musk sent that tweet, SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell told reporters that when someone signs up for Starlink internet, “they are going to receive a box from SpaceX with a user terminal and a cord.” The price point is still being ironed out, but Shotwell did say that millions of U.S. consumers pay $80 per month to get “crappy service.” She did not specify if Starlink will cost more or less than $80/month.
Below is the full mission timeline, though all times are approximate.
Countdown Hr/Min/Sec Before Launch
-00:38:00 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load
-00:35:00 RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading underway
-00:35:00 1st stage LOX (liquid oxygen) loading underway
-00:16:00 2nd stage LOX loading underway
-00:07:00 Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch
-00:01:00 Command flight computer to begin final prelaunch checks
-00:01:00 Propellant tank pressurization to flight pressure begins
-00:00:45 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch
-00:00:03 Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start
00:00:00 Falcon 9 liftoff
Timeline Hr/Min/Sec After Launch
00:01:14 Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)
00:02:33 1st stage main engine cutoff (MECO)
00:02:36 1st and 2nd stages separate 00:02:44 2nd stage engine starts 00:03:24 Fairing deployment
00:06:41 1st stage entry burn complete 00:08:24 1st stage landing
00:08:49 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO-1) 00:44:50 2nd stage engine restarts 00:44:52 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO-2) 00:60:43 Starlink satellites begin deployment
UPDATE: It looks like the launch was successful.
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