SpaceX will attempt to launch another set of 60 satellites to their Starlink Internet constellation on the night of Sunday, February 14 at. 23:21 EST (04:21 UTC on February 15). This mission, Starlink v1.0 L19, will deliver its payloads in the original shell of the constellation in a 53 degree slope.
The weather forecast shows a 40% chance of favorable weather at liftoff, where the primary concerns are thick clouds, cumulus clouds and electrical surfaces. If the plane does not take off on Sunday evening, the forecast for the next day shows a 60% chance of good weather, with primary concern being cumulus clouds.
This will be the sixth flight with the Falcon 9 booster 1059. This first stage was launched in December 2019 with the launch of CRS-19 mission. It was then launched CRS-20, a Starlink rideshare mission, SAOCOM-1Band latest NROL-108 on December 19, 2020. The launch vehicle conducted a static fire test early Saturday afternoon in preparation for the launch.
The mission will use a flight profile that includes a short secondary launch of the engine in the second stage approximately 45 minutes after liftoff, where the satellites will be released in an approximately 250 x 280 kilometer orbit just over an hour in flight.
After lifting from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) near Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, USA Falcon 9 the rocket flies northeast across the Atlantic Ocean. The autonomous spaceport drone ship Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY) will wait approx. 600 miles down to catch the booster when its mission is complete.
Meanwhile in Port Canaveral. Mrs. Tree practiced getting carvings from the water (using the dock) before she was photo-bombed by USNS Newport.
Just your average Thursday.
Edited clips (rewind below for the entire show).
– Chris B – NSF (@NASASpaceflight) February 11, 2021
OCISLY is towed by Hawk to this mission and is joined by the support ship GO Quest and the fairing retrieval ships GO Ms. Tree and GO Ms. Chief.
Before leaving Port Canaveral to support the launch, the crew of GO Ms. Tree set to conduct practice runs with the net used to collect fairings from the water.
This will be the second of four planned Starlink launches in February as SpaceX takes advantage of a break in missions for external customers to increase the implementation of their Internet constellation. Following the Starlink v1.0 L19, the often-delayed Starlink v1.0 L17 mission, originally scheduled for the end of January, but now targeted for the early morning hours of February 17th.
In the near future, SpaceX may continue the launch of Starlink flights as fast as they can renovate flight boosters, with the next known mission for an external customer being the Crew-2 launch for the International Space Station, which first targets 20. April.
SpaceX has started making deposits to reserve the Starlink service when it becomes available. The $ 99 deposits give priority to holders as the number of users served in a particular area is limited and the refundable deposits will be applied to the order price when the service is initiated. This is not limited to the United States. Potential customers can check starlink.com for details.
This launch will bring the number of operational satellites in the initial 53 degree inclination, 550 kilometers altitude orbital shell to about 1,050 of the eventual 1,584 total.
The first 36 aircraft are almost in place and some of the remaining 36 aircraft have begun to fill up. SpaceX has also launched 10 satellites in a 97.6 degree orbit to begin testing operations at the higher orbit conditions needed to serve customers at high latitudes.
In archiving, SpaceX mentioned being able to serve much of Australia in early 2021 with service to lower latitude islands near the north coast in early 2022 using ground stations on the Australian mainland and service to more distant and higher latitude islands near at the end of 2022, when more satellites with inter-satellite connections are sent into polar orbits.
Since the beginning of December 2020, SpaceX has changed the distance to the satellites already in orbit. It appears that the company is arranging many of the aircraft to have 18 active satellites instead of 20, which will fill some small gaps and free up some satellites to act as spare parts.
This can allow them to provide more consistent service as they continue to build the constellation.
The following video shows the positions of the individual satellites within their orbital planes in the last three months.
As they appear to be moving beyond the original shell of the constellation, SpaceX needs a resolution on the change they submitted to the FCC in April 2020.
SpaceX requested to lower the rest of the 4,400 satellites in orbit below 600 km from their approved altitudes above 1,100 km, lower the minimum height above the horizon that user terminals are allowed to communicate with the satellites, and adjust the transmission power lower to match change in height.
In early February 2021, SpaceX, through the Norwegian government, also submitted the desired changes to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Changing the altitude angle for communication with most satellites to 25 degrees would make each satellite’s ground area equal to what they would have been at higher altitudes with a 40 degree altitude.
This change has received opposition from other satellite providers, as the desired elevation angles may affect interference between systems as well as different systems that may need to split the available bandwidth.
Other objections focusing on the increasing congestion in certain runways and the possibility of generating waste from collisions have also been raised.
Many competitors argue that the changes in the constellation are large enough to be considered as a new filing and moved to a later FCC processing round, which will give Starlink lower priority when the need arises to coordinate between systems.
At the moment, Starlink is on par with OneWeb and Telesat when operating in the United States; however, the latter two have earlier filing dates with the ITU. If it changes to the date of the most recent change, Starlink would be in the same round as Amazon’s Kuiper in the United States.
However, the government permits and the heights for rollout are working, it will be a busy year for Starlink as they continue to quickly roll out their satellites and launch service in many countries.
Lead photo: Falcon 9 B1059 at SLC-40 before the Starlink v1.0 L8 mission. Credit: SpaceX
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