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Updated SpaceX schedule

November 20, 2022

By Chris Forrester

A planned November 17th SpaceX launch of 52 Starlink satellites (Mission 2-4) from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California was scrubbed because of a glitch in a static test firing of the rocket’s booster. The launch of a Eutelsat (10B) will happen on November 21st (9.57pm Florida time).

The cancelled Starlink launch would have used the Falcon 9 booster B1061 which had already been launched into space ten times and recovered. The last time such a test-firing problem occurred was in the catastrophic test of a rocket that was carrying the Amos 17 satellite back in 2019.

The latest launch was to have been SpaceX’s 65th operational Starlink mission and the satellites were Version 1.5 and would occupy Starlink’s Group 2 shell of orbiting satellites and which – when complete – would comprise 720 craft. Two other orbital shells each comprise 1584 satellites which orbit over the planet’s mid-latitudes.

Astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell says that Starlink’s Group 1 and 4 appear to be just four or five launches from completion. He adds that Group 3 and 5 require eight more launches to complete their shells, while Group 2 needs another 13 launches.

Totalling all these needs would see SpaceX needing about 25 more launches to complete its 4,408 craft constellation.

In the January-November period this year SpaceX has lofted 32 operational launches for Starlink, and most observers see SpaceX’s launch cadence continuing at a rate sufficient to wrap the Starlink fleet deployment by mid-2023.

Categories: Articles, Broadband, Satellite

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