Triple launch success for SpaceX
February 4, 2022
By Chris Forrester
A bright Florida afternoon sky helped SpaceX and its Falcon 9 to successfully launch 49 of Starlink satellites on February 3rd.
The triple success was the third Falcon 9 launch in barely 10 days. Two were from Florida and the other from Vandenberg Air Base in California. The two Floridian launches successfully returned their booster rockets to their floating barges while the Vandenberg launch returned to its dedicated pad at the air base. The Vandenberg launch was for a paying customer (the Italian COSMO-SkyMed scientific mission for the Italian Space Agency). Each launch carried Starlink cargoes of 49 satellites.
The Starlink launch was the third this year for Elon Musk’s broadband-by-satellite scheme.
Meanwhile, SpaceX has opened up its customer order system to potential users looking for a VIP service, albeit at a much higher price than the ‘basic’ service. The VIP ‘Premium’ version will cost $500 a month. In return users will receive a larger antenna capable of ‘seeing’ a larger slice of sky and thus greater accessibility to the orbiting fleet of craft. SpaceX is promising up to 500 Mb/s of throughput. The package of kit will cost users a thumping $2500 which suggests that buyers will likely be businesses, universities and other needing a higher level of service than basic subscribers who are paying $99 a month. The VIP service goes live in Q2 2022.
The current Starlink status is that this batch will join the 2042 already launched. However, some of that number have either failed or been deliberately de-orbited.
SpaceX’s list of broken records continues to grow. This latest launch was the 83rd flight which reused a Falcon 9 booster, and the 140th Falcon 9 flight since 2010. It was the 44th flight from its ‘home’ Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center.