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Science & Technology
First 60 StarLink comm sats deployed in 1 launch by SpaceX
2019-05-24
[NASASpaceFlight] Falcon 9 launches first Starlink mission – heaviest payload launch by SpaceX to date
Satellites massed 14,000 kgs total payload and deployment hardware came to 18,000kg - a huge launch and with the first stage still recovered.
The much-awaited and heralded launch of SpaceX’s Starlink internet satellite constellation launched on Thursday. With the twice-flown Falcon 9 rocket on SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, SpaceX deployed the first batch of 60 Starlink satellites. The launch was slightly delayed due to unacceptable Upper Level Winds scrubbed the first launch attempt. Then, a week ago, a requirement to update the Starlink software delayed the launch into next week. However, the latest attempt launched without issue at the opening of the window at 10:30 pm Eastern.

Starlink satellite configuration:

A flat and compact design that is “significantly more scalable and capable than its first experimental iteration”, noted SpaceX in the mission’s press kit.

In all, each Starlink satellite is equipped with multiple high-throughput antennas, a single solar array, and (crucially) Hall thrusters powered by krypton – all designed to bring low-latency, high-throughput internet services to every part of the world.

The Hall thrusters will allow each Starlink to independently maintain its orbit, adjust its position, and de-orbit at the end of its operational life.

Orbital position, navigation, and precision pointing for each Starlink is enabled in part by a Startracker system that is built upon the same Startracker used by the cargo and crew Dragon spacecrafts developed by SpaceX.

More impressively, the Startracker system will allow each Starlink to independently track on-orbit debris and autonomously fire its Hall thrusters to avoid debris.

At the end of their lives, this current round of Starlinks will mostly burn up in Earth’s atmosphere, with only 5% of each Starlink surviving atmospheric reentry.

Subsequent generations of Starlinks already under construction will be completely disposable, with 100% of the craft burning up in the atmosphere at the end of its lifetime.

Importantly, while this is the first batch of operational Starlinks to be launched, SpaceX does expect to encounter some issues as the satellites are deployed and brought into operational use.

This is part of SpaceX’s overall philosophy of “design, fly, iterate, fly again” which has served the company well in its development of critical capabilities that just a few years ago were deemed “impossible” or “unfeasible” by the larger spaceflight community.
Eventually more than 12000 of these StarLink sats will surround the Earth.

Posted by:3dc

#3  What happens when other countries or corporations decide to put their 12000 little satelites and they start bumping into each other? I can see my ISP saying they're waiting on another rocket launch to get my internet fixed.
Posted by: jpal   2019-05-24 15:44  

#2  Now *this* is more like the 21st century I was expecting.
Posted by: SteveS   2019-05-24 15:01  

#1  The first phase of the Starlink deployment plan will see 1,584 satellites in 550 km orbits inclined 53° to the equator and spread out across 40 different orbital planes of 66 Starlinks per plane.

Based on this plan, it will take 24 Falcon 9 launches of 60 satellites to complete the first phase of Starlink deployment.

The 550 km orbital shell, as it is known, is the middle of three orbital shells planned for the overall Starlink constellation.

SpaceX currently plans to build out the 550 km shell first, and then move on to deployment of the other two orbital altitude locations.

In addition to the 550 km deployments, a 340 km shell will eventually comprise of 7,518 Starlinks while the 1,200 km orbital location will host 2,841 Starlinks
Posted by: 3dc   2019-05-24 12:08