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SpaceX success for Starlink 27; plans Starship orbit

May 17, 2021

By Chris Forrester

Elon Musk’s SpaceX make a textbook Cape Canaveral launch of another 52 Starlink satellites (plus two ‘rideshare’ paying craft) into orbit on May 15th.

And, as ever, more records were broken. This time, for Starlink 27, it was the third launch in as many weeks. It was the eighth use of the first stage Falcon 9 booster, and the 15th overall launch of the year. It was the 119th overall flight for Falcon 9, and the 65th flight of used ‘pre-flown’ rocket boosters.

The extra 52 satellites carried into space now means that SpaceX has launched more than 1600 craft into orbit and well beyond the core demand of having 1,440 satellites in orbit. This latest batch of 52 means that Starlink has a total of 1,523 working satellites either in orbit or on their way to their correct orbital designations.

SpaceX’s plan, as explained to the FCC, states that once the first 1,584 satellites are correctly in orbit then it will focus on the next 2,814 satellites which will be located in lower orbits (at 570 kms and down from the originally envisioned 1100 kms).

Meanwhile, at SpaceX’s South Texas launch site plans are moving ahead rapidly for the next launch of a Starship, Musk’s giant rocket prototype. Two events are in detailed planning from a single launch. The plan is for a flight that will reportedly see the rocket’s first stage return to a target landing zone about six minutes after launch while the main body of the rocket continues into orbit and eventually descends to a landing in the Pacific Ocean near the Hawaiian island of Kauai where it will land in the water.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been asked for permission for this flight on May 13th. The SpaceX application says that this flight would not happen before June 20th and asks for a six-month period for its period of operation.

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