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SpaceX launches new booster with more Starlink satellites – Spaceflight Now

Live coverage of the countdown and launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The Starlink 4-15 mission launched SpaceX’s next batch of 53 Starlink broadband satellites. follow us on Twitter

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Less than 24 hours after the launch of Starlink satellites from California, SpaceX launched an additional 53 Internet relay stations from Cape Canaveral aboard a Falcon 9 rocket at 4:40 p.m. EDT Saturday. It was SpaceX’s 20th launch of the year and the second of 2022 to debut a new Falcon 9 booster.

The booster landed on SpaceX’s drone ship “Just Read the Instructions” floating in the Atlantic Ocean northeast of Cape Canaveral.

SpaceX completed preparations for the Falcon 9 rocket on Saturday and began loading supercooled, densified kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants into the 70-meter-tall vehicle for 35 minutes at T-minus.

In the final half hour of the countdown, helium pressure also poured into the rocket. In the final 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 protection systems were also configured for 4:40:50 PM launch

After launch, the 70-foot-tall Falcon 9 rocket took its 1.7 million-pound thrust — produced by nine Merlin engines — northeast across the Atlantic.

The rocket surpassed the speed of sound in about a minute, then turned off its nine main engines two and a half minutes after launch. The booster fell away from the Falcon 9’s upper stage, then fired pulses from cold throttle control engines and extended titanium grille fins to send the vehicle back into the atmosphere.

Two brake burns slowed the missile before landing on the drone ship about 400 miles (650 kilometers) downrange, about eight-and-a-half minutes after takeoff.

The Falcon 9 rocket for the Starlink 4-15 mission headed to the northeast of Cape Canaveral, landing on the “Just Read the Instructions” drone ship for the first time in the Atlantic Ocean. Credit: Spaceflight Now

The booster – tail number B1073 – flew on its first mission on Saturday. The landing of the first stage occurred just before the shutdown of the upper stage engine. The missile flew halfway around the world before re-igniting the upper stage Merlin-Vacuum engine approximately 45 minutes into the mission, clearing the way for the separation of the 53 Starlink satellites on T+plus 54 minutes, 32 seconds.

Retention bars are released from the Starlink payload stack, allowing the flat-packed satellites to fly into orbit free of the Falcon 9’s upper stage. The 53 spacecraft will deploy solar panels and go through automated activation steps, then use krypton-powered ion engines to maneuver into their operational orbit.

The Falcon 9’s guidance computer was intended to place the satellites in a near-circular orbit ranging in altitude between 189 miles and 197 miles (305 by 318 kilometers), with an orbit inclination of 53.2 degrees from the Earth. equator. The satellites will use the onboard propulsion to do the rest of the work to reach a circular orbit 335 miles (540 kilometers) above Earth.

Saturday’s mission’s Starlink satellites will fly in one of five orbital “shells” used in SpaceX’s global internet network. After reaching operational orbit, the satellites will enter commercial service and begin beaming broadband signals to consumers, who can purchase the Starlink service and connect to the network with a SpaceX-provided ground terminal.

Credit: Spaceflight Now

After Friday’s mission, SpaceX has launched 2,600 Starlink satellites so far, including spacecraft that have been decommissioned or malfunctioned. According to a list maintained by Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist who closely monitors spaceflight activity, there are more than 2,200 of those satellites in orbit this week.

Read our mission sample story for more details.

ROCKET SHIP: Falcon 9 (B1073.1)

LOAD: 53 Starlink satellites (Starlink 4-15)

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

LAUNCH DATE: May 14, 2022

LAUNCH TIME: 16:40:50 EDT (2040:50 GMT)

WEATHER FORECAST: 80% chance of acceptable weather; Low risk of wind at the highest level; Low risk of adverse booster recovery conditions

BOOSTER RECOVERY: “Just Read the Instructions” drone ship east of Charleston, South Carolina


TARGET JOB: 189 miles by 197 miles (305 kilometers by 318 kilometers), 53.2 degrees grade


  • T+00:00: Launch
  • T+01:12: Maximum aerodynamic pressure (Max-Q)
  • T+02:34: First stage main engine shutdown (MECO)
  • T+02:37: Stage separation
  • T+02:44: Engine ignition of the second stage
  • T+02:50: Cockpit edging
  • T+06:23: First stage entry burn ignition (three engines)
  • T+06:37: First stage entry burn cutoff
  • T+07:59: First stage landing ignition (one engine)
  • T+08:24: Landing first stage
  • T+08:50: Second stage engine shutdown (SECO 1)
  • T+45:29: Restart second stage
  • T+45:31: Second stage engine shutdown (SECO 2)
  • T+54:32: Starlink satellite separation


  • 154th Falcon 9 rocket launch since 2010
  • 162nd launch of Falcon rocket family since 2006
  • 1st launch of Falcon 9 booster B1073
  • 134th Falcon 9 Launch from Florida’s Space Coast
  • 86th Falcon 9 launch from pad 40
  • 141st launch overall from pad 40
  • 67th flight of a new Falcon booster
  • 46th Falcon 9 Special Launch with Starlink Satellites
  • 20th Falcon 9 Launch of 2022
  • 20th SpaceX launch in 2022
  • 19th orbital launch from Cape Canaveral in 2022

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1

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