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Starlink launch adding 46 craft

April 25, 2023

By Chris Forrester

SpaceX will launch 46 of its Starlink broadband satellites from its California launch site today, April 25th.

Lift-off is scheduled for 06.40 am Pacific Time (13.40pm UTC). Launch will happen from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. A backup opportunity is available Wednesday, April 26th at the same time.

The satellites are the v1.5 mini-craft. Each Starlink v1.5 satellite is also equipped with an inter-satellite laser communication system. This allows each satellite to communicate directly with other satellites, not having to go through ground stations. This reduces the number of ground stations needed, allowing coverage of the entire Earth’s surface, including the polar regions.

The first stage booster supporting this mission has previously flown 13 times, and launched Crew-1, Crew-2, SXM-8, CRS-23, IXPE, Transporter-4, Transporter-5, Globalstar FM15, ISI EROS C-3, and three Starlink missions. Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage will land on the Of Course I Still Love You drone-ship stationed in the Pacific Ocean some 635 kms downrange.

SpaceX says that this is the 224th total launch of its rockets, along with 186 total successful landings, and 158 reuses of the Falcon 9 booster. This is the 78th operational launch for the Starlink system.

These extra 46 craft will take the overall total launched to 4,238 Starlinks, of which 3,923 are in orbit and 3,352 operational. Others are drifting or moving towards their designated orbits. About 300 have either been deorbited after failure.

Tomorrow, April 26th will see SpaceX launch Viasat’s latest satellite, its ViaSat-3 Americas craft, from Florida. April 28th is the likely date for the launch of two O3b mPOWER satellites (the third and fourth mPOWERs) for SES. also from Florida by SpaceX.

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