SpaceX launched a new and massive commercial communications satellite into orbit late Saturday, setting a new launch record for a Falcon 9 rocket at the same time.
Falcon 9 launched from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida carrying 34 SpaceX aircraft. Starlink internet satellites and BlueWalker 3, a prototype satellite developed by AST SpaceMobile and billed as the largest commercial communications array ever flown in space. Liftoff was Saturday (September 10) at 9:20 p.m. EDT (0120 GMT). Sahin 9 booster does some SpaceX The date of his return to Earth.
Related: SpaceX’s Starlink megaconstellation is presented in photos
“This is a record-breaking 14th landing for this booster,” said Jesse Anderson, SpaceX production engineering manager. live commentary (opens in new tab).
The mission also set several other records.
It was SpaceX’s first five-engine mission to place payloads into orbit, and also the company’s heaviest payload to date. (BlueWalker 3 (It weighs 3,300 pounds (1,500 kilograms), Anderson said.)
“One of our most complex missions,” CEO of SpaceX Elon Musk wrote about the flight on Twitter (opens in new tab).
Meet BlueWalker 3 from AST SpaceMobile
SpaceX’s primary goal for Saturday’s launch was to add 34 new Starlinks satellites AST SpaceMobile’s BlueWalker 3 satellite was notable for both its size and its ambitious mission, with its growing constellation in orbit.
The satellite, which will measure 693 square feet (64 square meters) when fully deployed, is the largest commercial antenna launched into space. Its mission: to test new technology designed to provide direct global cell phone service to users from space. The goal is to fill coverage gaps and provide seamless high-speed phone and data service in underserved areas.
“The reason our satellite is so big is because you just need a big antenna on one side with a lot of power to communicate with a low-power, low-internal-power phone, and that’s a critical part of our infrastructure,” Scott Wisniewski, chief strategy officer of AST SpaceMobile, told Space.com. said in an interview. “We think this is really important for connecting directly to regular phones without any modifications to the phone and no additional burden to the user.”
Wisniewski said it will be several weeks before AST orders SpaceMobile BlueWalker 3 to deploy its spring-loaded antenna. During this time, the company will perform a series of health checks to make sure the satellite is fine.
AST SpaceMobile has partnered with 25 mobile service providers, 10 of which will participate in the company’s planned six-month BlueWalker 3 cruise to test their capabilities on six continents. Those partners include providers such as Vodaphone, Rakuten Mobile and Orange and a potential reach of 1.8 million phone users, Wisniewski said. Earlier this summer, the company received an award FCC license to test BlueWalker 3 service in Texas and Hawaii in the United States.
AST SpaceMobile needs more than one satellite to provide full coverage. “This is the culmination of our company’s R&D phase before we resume production of satellites next year,” Wisniewski said.
The company plans to follow up BlueWalker 3 with five operational satellites in 2023. Ultimately, it aims to build a constellation of at least 100 giant satellites to ensure complete coverage.
AST SpaceMobile is not alone in its search for cell phone coverage from space. Lynk Global is working on a similar project, which Elon Musk announced last month SpaceX is partnering with T-Mobile Providing mobile communication service with Starlink satellites.
Because of their size, the AST SpaceMobile satellites are visible to skygazers from the ground, and some astronomers have criticized the plan for its potential impact on ground-based telescope observations. New Scientist report (opens in new tab). If this complaint sounds familiar, it is One that rivals SpaceX’s own Starlink constellation once that company started releasing dozens of products at the same time.
Rocket reuse record as Starlink grows
About 8.5 minutes after the launch of the BlueWalker 3 and Starlink satellites, the first stage of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket returned to Earth for a precision landing with the company’s A Shortfall Of Gravitas drone in the Atlantic Ocean. The landing set a new record for the number of launches for the Falcon 9 booster.
Before Saturday’s liftoff, the Falcon 9 stage launched eight different Starlink missions, as well as SpaceX’s first astronaut test flight for NASA (called Demo-2) in May 2020; ANASIS-2 satellite for South Korea in July 2020; For NASA, the uncrewed CRS-21 cargo mission to the International Space Station in December 2020, as well as the Transporter 1 and Transporter 3 rideshare missions in January 2021 and January 2022, respectively.
When Elon Musk unveiled the Falcon 9 Block 5, a workhorse Booster in 2018, he said, SpaceX’s goal is to fly them at least 10 times. With each subsequent flight, the company has expanded its limits on rocket reusability as part of its efforts to lower the cost of spaceflight.
Similarly, SpaceX has continued to increase the size of the Starlink constellation in recent years, as well as the number of countries and coverage. in August, Royal Caribbean announced (opens in new tab) All cruise ships will use Starlink by 2023, SpaceX already offers services for RVs, boats and homes around the world.
The company has launched more than 3,200 satellites since 2019, with thousands more to come. SpaceX plans to complete its first constellation with 12,000 Starlinks in orbit and has applied for permission to increase to 30,000 satellites.
Sunday, September. 11, SpaceX plans to launch another Starlink mission. This flight, which will carry 54 Starlink satellites, is planned to be launched from Space Launch Complex No. 40. Cape Canaveral Space Force Station 10:53 PM EDT (0253 GMT) in Florida. You will be able to watch the launch live on Space.com during the flight.
Saturday’s launch was SpaceX’s 41st of the year. It was the company’s 179th release overall.
Email or follow Tariq Malik at email@example.com @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facellbook and Instagram.
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