The year 2020 is just beginning but SpaceX doesn’t want to waste time. Tests showed the first mission for the year was ready, and the weather for Monday night was clear. So, the company launched 60 Starlink communications satellites from the Space Coast. The satellites joined the other 60 samallsats that were launched last year on Nov. 11 during Mission 1.
Starlink satellites will provide better internet service, and SpaceX plans to fill Earth’s Low Orbit with as much as 12,000 satellites by the mid-2020s. The ultimate plan is to reach a superconstellation of 42,000 smallsats. Only 1,600 of these satellites will be at 550 km distance from the ground, 2,800 (Ku- and Ka-band spectrum satellites) will be at 1,150 km distance, and 7,500 (V-band satellites) will be at 340 km.
After the first 800 satellites reach the Earth’s Low Orbit and get activated, Starlink will become fully operational, stated the company. For them to reach this number, SpaceX will need to perform a dozen more launches using its SpaceX Falcon 9.
SpaceX Launch Details and More
For Monday’s launch – Mission 2, SpaceX used a Falcon 9 B5 rocket and a first-stage booster that has been used in three previous missions (B1049.4). B1049.4’s previous mission was to launch the first 60 Starlink satellites from the same launch site in May 2019. Its first mission was in September 2018 when it launched the Telstar 18 VANTAGE communications satellite, and the second mission was in January 2019 when it launched 10 Iridium voice and data relay satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
Monday’s launch started at 9:19 p.m. EST (02:19 GMT, Tuesday). The liftoff of Mission 2 was from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The 60 v1.0 smallsats will be sent to 500 km in the Low Earth Orbit, joining the other 122 Starlink smallsats that are already there.
After the successful launch, SpaceX plans to recover the first-stage booster B1049.4 and the payload fairing with their spaceport drone ships that are currently at the landing zone in the Atlantic Ocean.