SpaceX set to launch another batch of Starlink satellites
Orlando Sentinel February 21, 2022
ORLANDO, Fla. (Tribune News Service) — SpaceX took a couple weeks off, but is ready to send up another batch of Starlink satellites to add its expanding internet empire.
The launch of the Falcon 9 rocket with 46 Starlinks on board is scheduled for Monday from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The launch will take a southerly trajectory with the first stage booster, making its 11th flight, attempting a landing the droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas in the Atlantic Ocean.
Space Launch Delta 45′s weather squadron predicts a 90% chance for good weather with the only concerns being cumulus clouds.
The company’s last launch ran into issues after its payload of 49 Starlink satellites were deployed, and 40 of them were dragged back down to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere after fallout from geomagnetic storm.
That launch was Feb. 3, the sixth for SpaceX so far in 2022, and third Starlink launch of the year. Company founder Elon Musk said last week the company is aiming for 50 launches this year, which would surpass 2021′s record of 31 from Canaveral, Kennedy Space Center and Vandenburg Space Force Base in California.
This new batch will push the number of Starlinks launched to more than 2,100, but more than 200 of those never became or are no longer operational.
This flight will be the 22nd Starlink flight overall since the first test versions of the 570-pound satellites were sent up in 2018. The company currently has approval to place 4,408 Starlinks into service, each of which orbit at around 341 miles altitude.
The Starlink program at full capacity looks to provide the company billions of dollars from millions of Internet subscribers across the planet and help pay for SpaceX’s missions to Mars.
SpaceX is seeking Federal Communications Commission approval to increase its Starlink presence to about 30,000 with future launches on board its in-the-works Starship rocket. Other companies such as Amazon are also planning constellations of satellites that will increase the potential for debris in space.
The Union of Concerned Scientists maintain a database of the number of operational satellites in orbit. As of Jan. 1, there were 4,852 in orbit, including 4,078 in low Earth orbit.
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