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SpaceX launches first flight of cross-country Starlink doubleheader

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SpaceX will finish in January and start in February with two Starlink missions. These launches are two days away from different launch sites.

The first such mission — Starlink Group 2-6 — was launched from Space Launch Facility 4 East (SLC-4E). Vandenberg Tuesday, January 31, 8:15 am PST (16:15 UTC), Space Force base in California, after a delay from Monday.This was followed by Starlink Group 5-3 missions from historic Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A). Kennedy Space Center In Florida, it is currently scheduled for Thursday, February 2 at 2:37 AM (07:37 UTC).

These two missions will mark the sixth and seventh Falcon 9 launches this year, and SpaceX’s seventh and eighth overall launches in 2023. Both flights will use flight-proven Falcon 9 boosters and will attempt to retrieve them.

Vandenberg’s Starlink Groups 2-6 previously served as the United States National Reconnaissance Service (NROL-87 When NROL-85), SARah-1 For Airbus, study hard For NASA and CNES, and two other Starlink flights.After launching Tuesday morning, the first stage landed on the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS) of course i still love you, located about 647 km downrange in the Pacific Ocean.ship NRCquest I was also in a position to salvage half of the fairing for reuse.

Starlink Group 5-3 at Kennedy Space Center utilizes Falcon Booster B1069-5. CRS-24, Starlink Group 4-23, Hot Bird-13FWhen OneWeb #15 Mission. ASDS Lack of Gravitas Phase 1 recovery will occur at a downrange distance of approximately 665 km within the Atlantic Ocean.

Launch from California — Groups 2-6 — will deploy 49 Starlink satellites in orbits inclined 70 degrees to the equator at a final altitude of 570 km. The initial parking trajectory was 327 km x 339 km, with the Falcon 9 flying on a south-southeast trajectory.

A final trajectory of 570 km corresponds to the “second shell” of the Starlink constellation. The final 720 spaceships are spread out over his 36 planes, with 20 of his spaceships on each side. Groups 2-2, 2-3, and 2-5 missions have yet to be launched, so Tuesday’s launch is only his third launch targeting this second shell of his. First launch to Shell 2, Group 2-1deployed in September 2021.

A rendering of the ION satellite carrier deploying a CubeSat into low earth orbit. (Credit: D-Orbit)

The Starlink spacecraft was not alone in the Group 2-6 mission fairing. The ION Satellite Carrier Orbital Transfer Vehicle (SCV009 Eclectic Elena), developed and operated by Italian company D-Orbit, served as a rideshare payload on Tuesday’s flight.

The ION Satellite Carrier Platform features customizable dispensers that can host a combination of different sized CubeSats. Throughout the mission, the vehicle can independently release payloads and change trajectory parameters between deployment events. This adds some flexibility to missions that a standard rideshare launch can’t offer.

Following the launch of Starlink Groups 2-6, SpaceX will turn its attention to the East Coast for the launch of Groups 5-3 missions. The mission is expected to launch a series of Starlink satellites into 43-degree inclined orbits. This means that Falcon 9 will head southeast from Florida into orbit. This is common during the winter months as the north seas are rough, which tends to complicate recovery efforts.

The satellite itself is expected to be similar to version 1.5 satellites launched in the last few years.

A typical Starlink mission begins with the Falcon 9 taking off from the launch pad. The first stage’s nine Merlin 1D engines begin their firing sequence at her T-3 second mark on the countdown, allowing it to achieve maximum thrust and pass final checks before committing to launch.

A previous mission, Starlink Group 4-37, will take off from LC-39A in December 2022. (Credit: Julia Bergeron for NSF)

After takeoff, the Falcon 9 rises from the launch pad and descends range while maneuvering along a pre-programmed trajectory. About 72 seconds into flight, the aircraft passes her Max-Q. This is the point of maximum dynamic pressure and the maximum mechanical stress on the rocket.

Nine first stage engines continue to power the Falcon 9 for the first 2 minutes and 27 seconds of the mission, and at main engine cutoff (MECO), all nine engines shut down almost simultaneously. Stage separation typically occurs after 4 seconds, with the second stage Merlin his vacuum engine firing about 7 seconds after staging.

While the second stage continues to orbit with its payload, the first stage coasts to apogee (the highest point in its orbit) and then begins its return to Earth. The booster adjusts its course toward the landing strip before attempting to gently land on the deck of one of SpaceX’s three drone ships. Using drone ships to retrieve boosters allows SpaceX to launch larger payloads than return-to-launch missions with Falcon 9.

Meanwhile, the second stage continues its primary mission. After stage separation and ignition of the Merlin vacuum engines, the payload half of her fairing is jettisoned, thereby exposing the satellite to space. Like the Falcon 9’s first stage, the fairing halves can be salvaged and reused. It descends into a controlled sea using a system of thrusters and parachutes, where it is recovered by a recovery vessel.

The second stage engine cutoff (SECO-1) is typically performed eight and a half minutes after the start of flight. Followed by other engine firings to alter the deployment trajectory if required by the mission. For example, Groups 2-6 who used his second burn before deployment. SCV009 Eclectic Elena and Starlink satellites.

Because Starlink satellites are deployed in low orbit, a malfunctioning or non-functioning spacecraft will quickly re-enter the atmosphere and be destroyed. The working satellite will be elevated to a more stable orbit and checked out before heading to its final operational orbit.

After the spacecraft is separated, the second stage will be deorbit burn-up for proper disposal and to ensure transoceanic re-entry.

Spaceship vehicle and Super Heavy Booster during refueling test for wet dress rehearsal at Space Station. (Credit: SpaceX)

With two successful launches, Falcon 9 has reached a total of 200 orbital flights, with a launch success rate of 99%. These flights form part of SpaceX’s early start to the year. According to CEO Elon Musk, SpaceX is aiming for an ambitious goal of achieving up to 100 orbital launches by 2023. This would exceed his current record of 61 launches within the calendar. Year, set in 2022.

In addition to the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, SpaceX would like to introduce Starship to its orbital catalog, and will start the first test flights of the full stack (the Starship vehicle and its Super Heavy boosters) this year. At the moment, Starship is still undergoing readiness tests At the company’s Starbase testing and production facility in South Texas, a release date has yet to be officially announced.

(Top image: Falcon 9 taking off from SLC-4E on a Starlink Group 2-6 mission. Credit: SpaceX)

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