A pair of SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets are on track to make their first orbit in 2023 and kick off a second doubleheader with Starlink.
“To complete checkouts prior to launch,” SpaceX delayed the last launch of the month for 24 hours. The first Falcon 9 rocket will launch Starlink 2-6 and rideshare into D-Orbit no earlier than the payload 8:29 am PST (16:29 UTC) Monday, January 30. The mission will lift off from Vandenberg Space Base (VSFB) SLC-4E and the pad will travel southeast, California and the coast of Mexico. In the event of inclement weather or a minor technical issue, a backup window is available until 12:31 pm PST.
A few to 35.5 or 39.5 hours later, the second Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX’ Florida-based, NASA Kennedy Space Center LC-39A pad at approximately 3:02 am EST on Tuesday, February 1.
Kicking off the match, Starlink 2-6 will be SpaceX’s ninth Starlink mission to launch when the company began announcing the third batch of payloads on its Internet satellite launches in June 2020. Falcon 9 will send the main payload – the mass 49 Starlink V1. 5 satellites – to a semi-polar orbit that will see it pass from the Earth’s equator at an angle of 70 degrees. The mission would normally carry 51 Starlinks, but SpaceX has removed a pair of satellites to open the company’s D-Orbit ION SCV009 space logistics.
The ION weighs about 160 kilograms (350 lb) by itself and is about the size of a large oven. D-Orbit is designed to host fixed payloads and deploy rideshare satellites in orbit. It also has a push system that allows it to provide “last-mile” delivery services, giving rideshare customers the ability to end up splitting their satellite. Space draws like ION are intended to give satellite owners some dedicated benefits. Launch rockets (custom orbit selection in particular) save most of the cost of the rideshare launch.
After reaching orbit, Falcon 9 will deploy the first ION, use thrusters to close it to the end, and then release all 49 Starlink satellites simultaneously. The force of the stage The centrifugal force of the satellites naturally creates a stack of satellites launched within a few hours. The satellites then use reaction wheels to stabilize their orientation, deploy solar panels to start their batteries, and finally use ion thrusters for operational orbits.
ION SCV009 will test the new satellite separation system built by EBAD to demonstrate its ability to operate in low Earth orbit (VLEO). Space will potentially descend to a height of 270 kilometers (170 mi).
Starlink 5-3 will carry no crew and will likely be almost identical to Starlink 5-2, which SpaceX successfully launched on January 26. The latest mission’s stack of 56 Starlink V1.5 satellites weighed 17.4 tons and was the heaviest payload SpaceX has ever launched. Starlink 5-3 will target the same orbit and probably also carry 56 satellites.
Code 39A last supported SpaceX’s fifth Falcon Heavy launch on January 15 and was quickly converted to a single-core Falcon 9 configuration for Starlink 5-3. After the Starlink mission, Pad 39A will boost at least two Dragon shuttles before SpaceX will need to return to configuration for the triple launch of Falcon Heavy’s sixth launch.
SpaceX is scheduled to launch the Dragon Crew-6 astronaut mission no earlier than February 26, and the Dragon Spx-27 cargo delivery mission on March 11. Falco Gravis is scheduled to launch the giant ViaSat-3 communications satellite no earlier than March 24.
Tune in below at approximately 8:25 am PST (16:25 UTC) to watch the SpaceX Starlink 2-6 launch live.
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