SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket took with it a batch of 58 Starlink satellites to the orbit yesterday plus 3 Planet SkySat high-resolution Earth observatory satellites from the Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida (live webcast recording video below).
This was the 9th Starlink mission and overall 10th mission for SpaceX this year including the last successful Crew Dragon Demo-2 human spaceflight that took two astronauts to the International Space Station (@ISS).
Yesterday’s Starlink launch happened just within 10 days of the previous mission from the same launch pad (SLC 40), this was a SpaceX record for the fastest pad turnaround. Now a total of 538 Starlink satellites have been added to the constellation, till 2027 SpaceX plans to send around 12,000 Starlink small satellites to the low Earth orbit (LEO).
The Starlink constellation will provide high-speed low-latency internet around the globe, SpaceX especially wants to supply internet services to remote and rural areas where connectivity is limited or completely unavailable.
Planet, who owns the largest constellation of Earth observation satellites joined SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Program that allows customers to pay as low as $1 million to add their own small satellites to a Starlink mission. SpaceX has now sent a total of 18 Planet SkySats to LEO already, 3 more SkySats will be launched later this summer to complete the set of 21 satellites.
To adjust 3 SkySats alongside the Starlink stack inside the Falcon 9 fairing capsule, the number of Starlink satellites was reduced from the usual 60 to 58, later on, SpaceX tweeted the following video confirming all three SkySats being successfully deployed.
The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket (see info below) also landed successfully on the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ drone ship, the following footage of the event was released by SpaceX.
The ‘Falcon 9’ Rocket
Falcon 9, the world’s first orbital-class reusable rocket, is manufactured and operated by SpaceX for the reliable and safe transport of people and payloads to Earth orbit and beyond.Source: SpaceX.com
- Vehicle Weight: 70m (229.6ft) / More than the wingspan of a Boeing 747 aircraft
- Vehicle Diameter: 3.7m (12ft)
- Fairing Height: 13.1m (43ft)
- Fairing Diameter: 5.2m (17.1ft)