SpaceX Launches Fifth Starlink Mission

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — On Monday, February 17 at 10:05 a.m. EST, or 15:05 UTC, SpaceX launched its fifth Starlink mission from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Falcon 9’s first stage previously launched the CRS-17 mission in May 2019, the CRS-18 mission in July 2019, and the JCSAT-18/Kacific1 mission in December 2019.

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Your Weekend Rocket Forecast

Antares with Cygnus CRS-13 spacecraft on the launch pad on Wallops Island. (Credit: NASA)

Friday, February 14
Saturday, February 15

Launch Vehicle: Antares
Payload: Cygnus (NG-13)
Launch Time: 3:21 p.m. EST (2021 GMT) 3:43 p.m. EST (2043 GMT)
Launch Site: NASA Wallops Flight Facility (Virginia)
Webcast: www.nasa.gov

Northrop Grumman will launch a Cygnus resupply ship to the International Space Station.

Update: The launch was scrubbed on Friday due to unfavorable upper level winds.

Saturday, February 15
Sunday, February 16
Monday, February 17

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: 60 Starlink satellites
Launch Time: TBA 10:25 a.m. EST (1525 GMT) 10:46 a.m. EST (1546 GMT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com

SpaceX will launch 60 Starlink broadband satellites. The flight will add to the 242 Starlink satellites already launched.

Update: Launch postponed due to predicted poor weather in the first stage recovery area.

Update No. 2: Launch scrubbed to check on second stage valve. Now aiming for Monday.

Shotwell: SpaceX Could Spinoff Starlink as IPO

Gwynne Shotwell

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said today the company could spin off its Starlink satellite broadband business with an initial public offering (IPO) on the stock market, Bloomberg reports.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp. has already launched more than 240 satellites to build out Starlink, which will start delivering internet services to customers from space this summer, President Gwynne Shotwell said Thursday at a private investor event hosted by JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Miami.

“Right now, we are a private company, but Starlink is the right kind of business that we can go ahead and take public,” said Shotwell, SpaceX’s chief operating officer. “That particular piece is an element of the business that we are likely to spin out and go public.”

Investors have to this point had limited ways to own a piece of SpaceX, which has become one of the most richly valued venture-backed companies in the U.S. by dominating the commercial rocket industry. It flies satellites into orbit for customers including the U.S. military, carries cargo to the International Space Station and aims to start flying  NASA  astronauts and high-paying tourists soon.

An IPO likely would be welcomed by some SpaceX employees and investors. [SpaceX CEO Elon] Musk has been reluctant to force SpaceX to endure the scrutiny that comes with being a public company and to reveal the details of SpaceX’s financials. This has left employees sitting on valuable stock, which they’re typically only able to sell during a limited number of private transactions. An IPO for Starlink might also allow its longtime backers to register gains on their high-risk investment.

Musk has always said that he would not take SpaceX public until it was ferrying colonists to his planned settlement on Mars.

SpaceX has approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch nearly 12,000 Starlink satellites into Earth orbit. Last year, it applied for permission to add 30,000 spacecraft to that total.

Musk’s company has also been approved to apply for a license to offer Starlink services in Australia.

SpaceX, Kepler and Swarm Included on Australian List of Foreign Providers

60 Starlink satellites inside the Falcon 9 payload fairing. (Credit: Elon Musk)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Australian government has approved SpaceX, Swarm Technologies and Kepler Communications for inclusion on a list of foreign companies allowed to seek approvals to provide communications services in the country.

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SpaceX Starlink Launch Scheduled for Monday

60 Starlink satellites inside the Falcon 9 payload fairing. (Credit: Elon Musk)

Update No. 2: SpaceX is now targeting Wednesday, January 29 at 9:06 a.m., 14:06 UTC, due to poor weather in the recovery area.

Update: The launch was scrubbed due to high upper level winds. The next launch opportunity is Tuesday at 9:28 a.m. EST, or 14:28 UTC.

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Monday, January 27 at 9:49 a.m. EST, or 14:49 UTC, for its fourth launch of Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. A backup launch opportunity is available on Tuesday, January 28 at 9:28 a.m. EST, or 14:28 UTC.

The launch webcast will go live about 15 minutes before liftoff at spacex.com/webcast.

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SpaceX Launches 60 More Starlink Satellites

Falcon 9’s first stage conducts an entry burn as its second stage continues toward orbit. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX conducted its third launch of 60 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on Monday, January 6 at 9:19 p.m. EST.

Falcon 9’s first stage supported a Starlink mission in May 2019, the Iridium-8 mission in January 2019, and the Telstar 18 VANTAGE mission in September 2018. Following stage separation, SpaceX landed Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

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SpaceX Launches 60 Starlink Satellites

Falcon 9 first stage performs an entry burn as the second stage continues to orbit. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

SpaceX successfully launched 60 Starlink satellites on Monday, doubling the number of spacecraft in the broadband Internet constellation.

A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off on time at 9:56 a.m. EST from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The satellites were deployed an hour after liftoff.

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SpaceX Starlink Launch Details

60 Starlink satellites begin to separate after deployment from the Falcon 9 second stage. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Monday, November 11 at 9:56 a.m. EST, 14:56 UTC, for launch of 60 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. A backup launch opportunity is available at 9:34 a.m. EST, 14:34 UTC, on Tuesday, November 12.

The launch webcast will go live about 15 minutes before liftoff at spacex.com/webcast. High-resolution photos will be posted at flickr.com/spacex.

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SpaceX Files Applications for 30,000 More Starlink Satellites

60 Starlink satellites inside the Falcon 9 payload fairing. (Credit: Elon Musk)

SpaceNews reports that SpaceX has filed spectrum allocation paperwork with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for up to 30,000 additional Starlink broadband satellites.

The FCC, on SpaceX’s behalf, submitted 20 filings to the ITU for 1,500 satellites apiece in various low Earth orbits, an ITU official confirmed Oct. 15 to SpaceNews. 

SpaceX deployed its first 60 Starlink satellites in May and plans to launch hundreds — potentially over a thousand — more in the year ahead. 

The ITU, a United Nations entity, coordinates spectrum at the international level for satellite operators to prevent signal interference and spectrum hogging. National regulators submit filing on behalf of their country’s satellite operators.

The 30,000 satellites are in addition to 12,000 medium-orbit Starlink satellites already approved by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Elon Musk’s company is planning up to four additional Falcon 9 launches of Starlink satellites by the end of the year. Dates for those flights have not been publicly announced. Additional launches would follow in 2020.

China Launch Surge Left U.S., Russia Behind in 2018

Long March 2F rocket in flight carrying Shenzhou-11. (Credit: CCTV)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The year 2018 was the busiest one for launches in decades. There were a total of 111 completely successful launches out of 114 attempts. It was the highest total since 1990, when 124 launches were conducted.

China set a new record for launches in 2018. The nation launched 39 times with 38 successes in a year that saw a private Chinese company fail in the country’s first ever orbital launch attempt.

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Upcoming Launches Include Mission Extension Vehicle, ICON and Starlink Satellites

Mission Extension Vehicle refuels satellite. (Credit: Orbital ATK)

Four upcoming launches in the United States, Russia and New Zealand feature payloads to refuel a communications satellite, study space weather, expand SpaceX’s Starlink network, and test out new technology.

October 9

Proton
Payloads: Eutelsat 5 West B communications satellite, Mission Extension Vehicle 1 (MEV 1)
Launch Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Launch Time: 6:17 a.m. EDT (1017 GMT )

This is the first flight of the MEV, which will refuel the Intelsat 901 communications satellite. Both satellites on this launch were built by Northrop Grumman.

October 9/10

Pegasus XL
Payload: Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite
Launch Platform: Stargazer L-1011 aircraft
Departure Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Launch Window: 9:25-10:55 p.m. EDT on Oct. 9 (0125-0255 GMT on Oct. 10)

NASA’s ICON mission will study disturbances in the ionosphere caused by terrestrial weather and solar storms that disrupt radio transmissions and GPS navigation. ICON has suffered repeated delays due to technical problems. The original launch date was in June 2017. The launch is being conducted by Northrop Grumman.

October 14/15

Electron
Payloads: Palisade CubeSat
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
Launch Window: 7:00-11:00 p.m. EDT on Oct. 14 (2300-0300 GMT on Oct. 14/15)

Rocket Lab’s “As The Crow Flies” mission is the ninth launch of the Electron rocket Astro Digital’s Palisade technology demonstration satellite is a 16U CubeSat with a next-generation communications system and an an on-board propulsion system.

NET October 17

Falcon 9
Payloads: ~ 60 Starlink 1 communications satellites
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Launch Time: TBD

SpaceX will launch the second group of Starlink 1 broadband satellites no earlier than Oct. 17.

Amazon Files for Approval to Launch 3,236 Satellites for Internet Services

Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com marked Independence Day by filing an application with the Federal Communications Commission to launch 3,236 satellites to provide global Internet services from space. The Los Angeles Times reports:

Amazon in its FCC application said its satellites would operate at altitudes of about 370 to 390 miles (590 to 630 kilometers).

Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos last month said the Kuiper project would cost “multiple billions of dollars.” The project is separate from Bezos’ space launch vehicle maker, Blue Origin.

In its FCC filing, Amazon said it would help serve U.S. communities “by offering fixed broadband communications services to rural and hard-to-reach areas.” The Kuiper System will help mobile network operators to expand wireless services, Amazon said in its application. It also offered the prospect of “high-throughput mobile broadband connectivity services for aircraft, maritime vessels and land vehicles.”

Amazon is in a race with OneWeb, SpaceX and other companies to provide global broadband services from space. SpaceX has received approval for nearly 12,000 satellites and launched the first 60 spacecraft of its Starlink constellation in May. OneWeb launched the first six of a planned 648 satellites in February.











AAS Issues Position Statement on SpaceX’s Satellite Constellations

Telescopes at Lowell Observatory in Arizona captured this shot of galaxies May 25. Their image was marred by the reflected light from more than 25 Starlink satellites as they passed overhead. (Credit: Victoria Girgis/Lowell Observatory)

American Astronomical Society Statement

On May 23rd entrepreneur Elon Musk’s company SpaceX launched 60 Starlink communication satellites aboard a single rocket. Within days skywatchers worldwide spotted them flying in formation as they orbited Earth and reflected sunlight from their shiny metal surfaces. Some people, unaware that artificial satellites can be seen moving against the starry background every clear night, reported UFO sightings. Astronomers, on the other hand, knew exactly what they were seeing — and immediately began to worry.

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NRAO Statement on Starlink and Communication Satellite Constellations

60 Starlink satellites begin to separate after deployment from the Falcon 9 second stage. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

National Radio Astronomy Observatory Statement

Recent news reports of planned constellations of communication satellites, including the SpaceX Starlink proposal, have pointed out the potential impacts these systems may have on radio astronomy. For decades, the U.S. National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and the Green Bank Observatory (GBO), in cooperation with the National Science Foundation, have worked to ensure that innovations in communications can advance while still preserving our ability to explore the Universe from Earth and conduct essential fundamental research through radio astronomy.

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SpaceX Update on Status of 60 Starlink Satellites

60 Starlink satellites begin to separate after deployment from the Falcon 9 second stage. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

SpaceX Statement
May 31, 2019

We continue to track the progress of the Starlink satellites during early orbit operations. At this point, all 60 satellites have deployed their solar arrays successfully, generated positive power and communicated with our ground stations.

Most are already using their onboard propulsion system to reach their operational altitude and have made initial contact using broadband phased array antennas.

SpaceX continues to monitor the constellation for any satellites that may need to be safely deorbited. All the satellites have maneuvering ability and are programmed to avoid each other and other objects in orbit by a wide margin.

Also, please note that the observability of Starlink satellites is dramatically reduced as they raise orbit to greater distance and orient themselves with their phase array antennas toward Earth and their solar arrays behind the body of the satellite.

Editor’s Note: During a talk at MIT earlier this week, President Gwynne Shotwell said 56 satellites were performing as expected and that four had problems. She did not elaborate on the nature of the problems.