Late in the evening on May 4, SpaceX successfully sent another (25th) batch of 60 Starlink Internet satellites version 1.0 into orbit, and the first stage of the Falcon 9 with inventory number B1049.9, which flew into space for the ninth time, landed on the sea platform Of Course I Still Love You, repeating the current record (SpaceX now has two such first stages that have flown into space nine times). Running as usual could be watch on SpaceX YouTube channel.
The current version of the Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket is designed in such a way that it can be reused up to 10 times with minimal interflight maintenance and up to 100 times with partial replacement of first stage parts. SpaceX has already reused the first stages of the Falcon 9 for subsequent launches, with a total of 26 stages used multiple times. Despite the significant savings, it is still not known for certain how many launches in practice the same first stage can withstand.
SpaceX is set to fly a Falcon booster for a record 10th time as early as Sunday.https://t.co/FTgG5yzq2j
— Michael Baylor (@nextspaceflight) May 4, 2021
The 10th launch of the same first stage Falcon 9 is scheduled for this Sunday, May 9, as part of the mission Starlink 27 v1.0. This will be stage number F9 B5 B1051.10. Another goal of SpaceX is to reduce the interval between Falcon 9 launches to a day. Now the record is 27 days. Back in 2017, Musk stated the intention to launch the same first stage of Falcon 9 twice a day, and a year later stated that this will happen no later than 2019. Perhaps SpaceX can achieve this goal this year.
Yesterday’s launch is SpaceX’s 13th launch in 2021, the 116th Falcon 9 launch, and the 10th Starlink mission this year. If you remember, for the entire 2020, SpaceX conducted 26 successful missions, of which 14 were in the interests of its own Starlink project.
The Falcon 9 rocket with satellites launched from the LC-39A launch pad of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 4 at 22:01 Kiev time.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 4, 2021
According to the already worked out scheme, two and a half minutes later the first stage separated, and in the ninth minute after launch it landed
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship – the 9th landing of this booster pic.twitter.com/wzPjMsu2z3
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 4, 2021
The second stage worked normally and eventually delivered the satellites to the planned orbit. In the coming weeks, they will reach target orbits using their own Hall-effect thrusters powered by krypton and will begin work.
With this launch, the Starlink orbital constellation reached 1,494 satellites (before the completion of the first phase (1,584 vehicles), there was nothing left). Already this summer, Starlink satellite Internet, which already provides peak speeds of 400 Mbps, should go out of beta, and by the end of the year it should cover most of the planet and become fully mobile – SpaceX is already working on a portable version of the Starlink satellite Internet terminal.
Just last week, the US regulator authorized SpaceX to place the next 2,814 satellites in a circular orbit with an altitude of 550 kilometers instead of the originally planned 1,150 kilometers. At the same time, Elon Musk on May 4 toldthat to date SpaceX has collected more than 500 thousand applications for Starlink connection and there are no technical problems with meeting the current demand.
US regulator authorizes SpaceX to place the next 2,814 Starlink satellites in a lower orbit (550 km), despite objections from Amazon and OneWeb
- SpaceX has been developing the Starlink project since at least end of 2014 – then Elon Musk for the first time announced plans to connect the whole world with global satellite Internet. Since then, Starlink has progressed further than its rivals OneWeb, Samsung, Amazon, and Boeing combined.
- At the end of October 2020, Starlink entered the stage of public beta testing – a program called Better Than Nothing Beta was launched on October 27. The set of necessary equipment (terminal, mounts and Wi-Fi router) costs $ 499, and the subscription fee for the service is $ 99 per month. Hardware installation and configuration is as simple as possible and takes up to five minutes. Initially, the beta test was limited to the northern United States and southern Canada, but as of January 20, SpaceX began accepting applications for connections across most of Canada and the United Kingdom. During the three months of the beta test, more than 10 thousand subscribers were connected to Starlink in three countries.
- SpaceX has permission for 42,000 satellites (this does not mean that it plans to launch as many). The company tentatively estimated the costs of the Starlink project at $ 10 billion, expecting that in the very first year of operation, the system will be able to bring in revenue of about $ 30 billion.
- On March 3, 2021, it became known about SpaceX’s plans to build a plant in Austin for the production of Starlink kits on an industrial scale.
- In the future, SpaceX also plans to spin off the Starlink global satellite Internet project into a separate company and list it. Recently Elon Musk toldthat Starlink’s entry to the exchange is possible with a well-predicted cash flow – and this year the company to be “Go through a deep abyss of negative cash flow.”