Another 46 Starlink craft orbit
August 15, 2022
By Chris Forrester
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket placed 46 Starlink satellites into one of five orbital shells in SpaceX’s internet constellation on August 12th. SpaceX began launching dedicated missions into one of the network two polar orbit shells last month. SpaceX has previously launched satellites into the other three shells at inclinations of 53 degrees, 53.2 degrees, and 70 degrees to the equator.
The launch took place from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, north-west of Los Angeles, at 21.40 GMT and was the eighth SpaceX mission from Vandenberg this year – and the company’s 36th launch of 2022 overall.
The Falcon 9 booster fknown as tail number B1061, was making its 10th trip to space. SpaceX’s drone ship ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ was in position in the Pacific Ocean a few hundred miles south of Vandenberg for landing of the first stage about eight-and-a-half minutes after lift-off.
The 46 satellites take the overall total of satellites launched to 3,055, of which 2,287 are in service and another 398 raising their orbits to their correct positions.
However, some of the launch shells are known to be dangerous insofar as there is debris in the vicinity of the Starlink orbits. A Russian anti-satellite test (on Cosmos 1408) which happened in November last year created a debris field which affected some 6,000 “close approaches” for other Starlink craft. A close approach is when there’s debris within 10 kms.