Another 60 Starlink craft enter orbit
October 19, 2020
SpaceX launched another 60 of its Starlink broadband-by-satellite craft into orbit at 8.25am Florida time on October 18th.
This was the 14th batch of Starlink launches and takes the delivered total of Low Earth orbiting satellites to 835 (although some have been deorbited). The 60 satellites on board were deployed into a near-circular orbit some 278 kms high. They will now be raised using their on-board ion thrusters to their final orbiting height of 550 kms.
In what is now a routine demonstration of rocket engineering the Falcon 9’s first stage made a text-book landing onto its floating barge (‘Of Course I Still Love You’) and the Atlantic rescue/catching vessels (named Go Ms. Tree and Go Ms. Chief) managed to catch two valuable rocket fairings although one of the capture nets broke.
This mission was the 18th this year for SpaceX and the 95th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket.
SpaceX is already running a test of its Starlink broadband-by-satellite programme and this launch will mean that Elon Musk has approaching 800 useable satellites in space for a more ambitious test-programme prior to rolling out a service to the northern US and Canada.
The next Starlink launch will be on or around October 21st.