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Busy two weeks for SpaceX

March 23, 2023

March 24th, subject to the usual weather considerations, will see SpaceX launch 55 of its Starlink satellites (Version 1.5). Mission 5-5 is scheduled for launch at 11.33am Florida time (15.33 GMT) from Cape Canaveral.

The Falcon 9 rocket which will be used has been turned around from its previous use in just 25 days.

Starlink Mission 5-5 will mark the 76th operational Starlink mission, boosting the total number of Starlink satellites launched to 4,160, of which about 3,858 will still be in orbit around the Earth once launched.

Each Starlink v1.5 satellite has a compact design and a mass of 307 kg. SpaceX developed a flat-panel design, allowing them to fit as many satellites as possible into the Falcon 9’s 5.2-meter wide payload fairing. Due to this flat design, SpaceX is able to fit up to 60 Starlink satellites and the payload dispenser into the second stage, while still being able to recover the first stage.

Following on from this Starlink launch, SpaceX will launch its Mission 6-2 on March 30, also from Florida.

Next up, also on March 30th, is a Californian launch of ten ‘Tranch 0’ demo satellites for the US military.

One April 7th, SpaceX is planning the launch of Intelsat’s I-40e/Tempo satellite. This craft, one of Intelsat’s ‘epic’ series providing in-flight connectivity and other mobile communications services over North and Central America. Intelsat 40e is a partial replacement for Intelsat 29e, which failed back in 2019. The ‘Tempo’ hosted payload (NASA’s Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution) instrument will measure atmospheric chemistry and monitor air pollution over North America.

The next day, April 8th, SpaceX is scheduled to launch ViaSat-3 Americas for Viasat, also from Florida.

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