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Extra 55 Starlinks launched

February 13, 2023

By Chris Forrester

SpaceX conducted another textbook launch during the early hours of February 12th from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The launch (officially Mission 5-4) broke a number of records, not least the shortest-time ever (5 days) between launches from the same pad.

The mission was SpaceX’s 10th launch of the year, a pace of one launch every four days since January 1st. SpaceX is aiming to launch up to 100 Falcon rocket missions this year from its dedicated launch pads in Florida and California, while its teams of engineers and technicians in South Texas are readying for the first orbital test flight of SpaceX’s massive new Starship launch vehicle.

SpaceX has now launched 3,930 Starlink spacecraft since the first prototypes were orbited in 2018. However, that number includes test satellites no longer in service, and satellites that have already re-entered the atmosphere. The current number of functioning satellites is about 3,500 with more than 3,100 operating at their correct orbital positions and another 300 or so in transit to their target orbits.

The launch means that SpaceX has launched 213 of the Starlink Generation 2 satellites into orbit.

February saw Starlink open up for business for users in Brazil, Colombia, and Italy.

“Our action will allow SpaceX to begin deployment of Gen2 Starlink, which will bring next generation satellite broadband to Americans nationwide, including those living and working in areas traditionally unserved or underserved by terrestrial systems,” the FCC stated in its December 1st 2022 instruction which partially approved the Starlink Gen2 constellation. “Our action also will enable worldwide satellite broadband service, helping to close the digital divide on a global scale.”

This launch was the 12th for the Falcon 9 booster, which successfully landed after the launch on the ‘Shortfall of Gravitas’ barge downrange.

Upcoming launches for SpaceX include Inmarsat 6 F2 on about February 18th and two satellites for SES O3b (mPOWER 3 and 4) around the end of February.

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