SpaceX launches 58 more Starlink satellites in Saturday rideshare mission

SpaceX finished its ninth huge Starlink launch on June 13, a mission that includes a rideshare customer for the primary time.


Image Source: SpaceFlight Insider

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifted far away from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 5:21 a.m. Eastern, carrying 58 Starlink broadband satellites rather than the standard 60. The rocket carried slowly lesser Starlink satellites to create room for 3 remote-sensing SkySat satellites for our Planet. 

SpaceX launched the SkySat satellites first, about Thirteen minutes after liftoff, accompanied by the Starlink satellites about Thirty Nine minutes after blastoff. 

The mission included a Falcon 9 booster that took two cargo missions to the ISS for NASA, the final one being CRS-20 in March. The rocket featured a previously flown payload fairing, with one half recovered from the Jcsat-18/Kacific-1 satellite mission in December, and therefore the other from SpaceX’s third Starlink mission, which happened in January.

SpaceX recovered the rocket’s first-stage for a 3rd time, landing the booster on the drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” within the Atlantic.

The launch marks the start of the rideshare program SpaceX announced in August 2019, offering regular opportunities for smallsat operators to hitch rides on Starlink missions. 

SpaceX Leading Designing Engineer Jessie Anderson told the launch contract covering Earth’s three SkySat satellites was signed six months before. Planet’s Saturday launch and a second Starlink rideshare scheduled for July will complete the operator’s constellation of 21 SkySats, a fleet that enhances Planet’s larger constellation of Dove CubeSats. 

Once all 21 SkySats are in orbit, Planet says it'll be ready to image locations a mean of seven times each day, with some locations seeing up to 12 revisits each day, at 50-centimeter resolution. Planet’s CubeSats collect imagery in a 3-5 meter resolution. 

Another Earth-observation company, BlackSky, said during a recent interview that it's two satellites scheduled to launch Midsummer Day on a Starlink rideshare mission. Barring schedule slips, that might be three Starlink launches in June, which might be the very best number of Starlink launches conducted during a month. 

SpaceX was targeting two Starlink launches a month throughout 2020 but has averaged one Starlink launch a month thus far. the corporate has launched 540 Starlink satellites so far, counting two prototypes, out of a planned system comprising several thousand.

SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeted in late April that Starlink would begin a personal beta service in about three months, and a public beta in six months. the corporate expects to start out partial service over the U.S. and Canada later this season, along with global coverage in 2021. SpaceX upgraded its Starlink website on June 12 to access prospective customers to check-in for news and repair availability announcements.

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