SpaceX launched the heaviest payload on the Falcon 9 rocket – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX launched the heaviest payload on the Falcon 9 rocket - Spaceflight Now
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“Our action will allow SpaceX to begin deploying Gen2 Starlink, which will deliver a next-generation broadband satellite network to Americans across the country, including those who live and work in areas traditionally unserved or underserved by terrestrial systems.” The FCC wrote in December. 1 order partially confirming the Starlink Gen2 constellation. “Our activity will also enable worldwide satellite broadband service, helping to bridge the global digital divide.

“At the same time, this limited grant and related conditions will protect other satellite and ground operators from harmful interference and maintain a safe space environment, promote competition, and preserve spectrum and orbital resources for future use,” the FCC wrote. “We are currently postponing the rest of SpaceX’s deployment.”

Specifically, the FCC authorized SpaceX to launch an initial block of 7,500 Starlink Gen2 satellites into orbits of 525, 530, and 535 kilometers, with inclinations of 53, 43, and 33 degrees, respectively, using Ku-band and Ka-band frequencies. . The FCC has delayed a decision on SpaceX’s request to operate its Starlink Gen2 satellites in higher and lower orbits.

Like the first Gen2 launch last month, the Starlink 5-2 mission aimed for a 530-kilometer-high (329-mile) orbit Thursday at a 43-degree inclination to the equator.

The Starlink 5-2 mission will add 56 more satellites to SpaceX’s Starlink internet network. Credit: Spaceflight Now

Currently, SpaceX has about 3,400 operational Starlink satellites in space, with more than 3,100 operational and about 200 in orbit. Based on Jonathan McDowell’s chartexpert observer of space flight activity and astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

The first-generation Starlink network architecture includes satellites flying several hundred miles up, orbiting at inclinations of 97.6 degrees, 70 degrees, 53.2 degrees and 53.0 degrees to the equator. Most of SpaceX’s recent Starlink launches have launched satellites into Shell 4 at a 53.2-degree inclination, after the company largely completed its first 53-degree-inclined shell launches last year.

Shell 5 of the Starlink network was believed to be one of the polar-orbital layers of the constellation, with an inclination of 97.6 degrees. But the names of the first Gen2 missions – Starlink 5-1 and 5-2 – indicate that SpaceX has changed the naming scheme for Starlink rockets.

SpaceX’s launch team was positioned inside the launch control center south of the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station for the countdown early Thursday morning. SpaceX began loading supercooled, condensed kerosene and liquid oxygen fuels into the Falcon 9 vehicle in T-minus 35 minutes.

Helium pressure also flowed into the rocket during the last half hour of the countdown. In the final seven minutes of takeoff, the Falcon 9’s Merlin main engines were thermally conditioned for flight through a procedure known as “chilldown.” Falcon 9’s guidance and range safety systems are also configured for launch.

After liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket sent 1.7 million pounds of thrust produced by 9 Merlin engines in a southeasterly direction over the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX resumed launches this winter using the southeast corridor from Cape Canaveral, rather than the northeast trajectories, to take advantage of better sea conditions to land the Falcon 9’s first stage booster.

Throughout the summer and fall, SpaceX flew Starlink missions on routes northeast from Florida’s Space Coast.

The Falcon 9 rocket exceeded the speed of sound for about a minute, then shut down its nine main engines two and a half minutes after liftoff. The booster stage separated from the Falcon 9’s upper stage, then fired pulses from cold gas thrusters and an extended titanium mesh to help propel the vehicle back into the atmosphere.

Two brake burns slowed the rocket to land on the Read Instructions drone from a landing distance of 410 miles (660 kilometers) about nine minutes after liftoff. The reusable booster, designated B1067 in the SpaceX inventory, completed its ninth trip into space on Thursday.

Falcon 9’s reusable payload fairing was ejected during the second stage burn. A recovery ship was also on the Atlantic station to retrieve the two halves of the nose cone that bounced under the parachutes.

Thursday’s mission’s first-stage landing came as the Falcon 9’s second-stage engine cut off to deliver the Starlink satellites into orbit.

The 56 Starlink spacecraft, built by SpaceX in Redmond, Washington, separated from the Falcon 9 rocket 19 minutes after liftoff. SpaceX’s ground team waited to confirm the milestone of the spacecraft’s deployment when the rocket passed within range of the tracking station in Australia about an hour after liftoff.

The Falcon 9’s guidance computer aimed to place the satellites in an elliptical orbit at an altitude of 131 to 209 miles (212 to 337 kilometers), inclined at 43 degrees to the equator. After liftoff, the 56 Starlink spacecraft will deploy their solar arrays and go through automated activation stages, then use ion thrusters to maneuver into an operational orbit.

ROCKET: Falcon 9 (B1067.9)

DOWNLOADING: 56 Starlink satellites (Starlink 5-2)

STARTS PAGE: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida

START DATE: January 26, 2023

START TIME: 4:32:20 AM EST (0932:20 GMT)

WEATHER FORECAST: 70% chance of fair weather; Low to moderate risk of upper level winds; Low risk of adverse conditions for booster recovery

ENHANCED RECOVERY: “Read the Instructions Only” drone in northeast Bahamas

START AZIMUTH: southeast

TARGET ORBIT: 131 miles by 209 miles (212 kilometers by 337 kilometers), 43.0 degree inclination


  • T+00:00: Liftoff
  • T+01:12: Maximum aerodynamic pressure (Max-Q)
  • T+02:28: First stage main engine cutoff (MECO)
  • T+02:31: Phase separation
  • T+02:38: Second stage engine ignition
  • T+02:42: Fairing jump
  • T+06:42: First stage entry ignition (three engines)
  • T+07:00: First stage inlet burnout
  • T+08:23: First stage landing ignition (one engine)
  • T+08:43: Second stage engine cut (DRY 1)
  • T+08:44: First stage landing
  • T+18:49: Detachment of Starlink satellite


  • The 199th launch of the Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
  • The 209th launch of the Falcon missile family since 2006
  • 9th release of Falcon 9 booster B1067
  • The 171st Falcon 9 launch from Florida’s Space Coast
  • 111th Falcon 9 launch from pad 40
  • 166th release in total from pad 40
  • 141st flight of a reused Falcon 9 booster
  • The 69th Falcon 9 launch is primarily dedicated to the Starlink network
  • 5th Falcon 9 launch of 2023
  • 6th launch by SpaceX in 2023
  • 5th orbital launch attempt from Cape Canaveral in 2023

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