Just days after the successful flight of the Crew-3 manned mission, SpaceX carried out another launch of the Falcon 9 rocket. The Starlink Group 4-1 mission delivered 53 more satellites of the emerging super constellation into orbit. The start took place exactly on November 13 at 13:19 Polish time from the SLC-40 platform from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
The start took place with a 24-hour delay due to unfavorable weather conditions. Despite the delay, the launch went smoothly and in 16 minutes after the rocket’s upper stage had launched the satellites in initial orbit.
The set of new satellites was placed in a 53-degree orbit for the first time. In an earlier launch in September, SpaceX launched 51 Starlink satellites into a 70-degree orbit, also on a Falcon 9 rocket.
The first stage of the rocket (previously used, among others, for a manned test flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft) returned safely landing on a platform called “Just Read the Instructions” in the Atlantic Ocean. The network of SpaceX telecommunications satellites on LEO is thus expanded by another 53 satellites.
Starlink version 1.5 (V1.5) satellites have already hit orbit since the September Starlink Group 2-1 mission. Their basic improvement is the presence of a laser terminal that improves the efficiency of communication between the components of the super constellation. The deployment of satellites in this version will continue throughout the next missions.
The Starlink super constellation is to provide global access to high-speed Internet, especially in places that have so far been cut off from access to traditional Internet connections. So far, the service has been offered and launched in at least 14 different countries (including Poland), and in several others applications are awaiting final approval.
Considering the first test versions of the Starlink satellites, SpaceX can boast that a total of 1,844 satellites have been delivered to orbit. The company already has permission from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch approximately 12,000 Starlink satellites.
The latest launch was also the 31st launch of Falcon 9 as part of the constellation building program (as well as the 25th Falcon 9 mission this year). SpaceX has at least five more missions planned before the end of this year, four of which are to carry further sets of Starlink satellites, and one of them – the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) spacecraft, which is to demonstrate the technique of influencing asteroid trajectories (potentially Earth-threatening). The launch of the DART mission is scheduled for November 24 from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.