July 14, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA
Discovery

Launch Pad Abort Module Returns to Flight, Launching First SpaceX Mission in July

Spectacular lighting and atmospheric effect as B1073 rises into the pre-dawn darkness of Florida on Wednesday morning. Photo credit: SpaceX

SpaceX launched and landed its first Falcon 9 early Wednesday morning, with a thrilling pre-dawn liftoff of a rocket that has been used 16 times from the Cape Canaveral Space Station in Florida. The seasoned B1073, which suffered a dramatic abort on the T-0 pad last month after a pair of back-to-back weather-related delays, returned to flight in spectacular fashion, launching From the historic Space Launch Complex (SLC)-40 at 4:55 a.m. EDT to deliver 20 new Starlink internet communications satellites to low-Earth orbit.

After suffering two consecutive weather-related delays last month and a dramatic abort on the T-0 pad, B1073 spectacularly returns to service at 4:55 a.m. EDT Wednesday for its 16th mission. Photo credit: SpaceX

This morning's flight marked SpaceX's 68th launch of the year, counting 67 “single-stick” Falcon 9 missions. and last week's unveiling of the three-barreled Falcon Heavy with The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) newest geostationary operational environmental satellite (GOES-U)—and continues a pace that has seen an average of one launch every 2.7 days since early January. That pace saw SpaceX achieve its first month of ten missions in Januaryhis first month of eleven and twelve missions in March and now his first month of 13 and 14 missions In May.

Starlink 8-9 launches from Pad 40 on its second recent attempt. Photo credit: Jeff Seibert/AmericaSpace

Sixteen reusable Falcon 9 boosters, including a pair of new cores that came online in January and March—have so far delivered more than 1,000 Starlinks, four large geostationary communications satellites for Eutelsat, based in Sweden, Indonesia, Paris and France. and SES, based in Luxembourgtwo pairs of manned and Unmanned Missions to the International Space Station (ISS) and spacecraft Designed to explore Earth's oceans and atmospheric health. and Investigating the potential habitability of the Moon.

Stunning view of exhaust gases from B1073's nine Merlin 1D+ engines appearing to radiate outward into the rarefied upper atmosphere, at the end of the first stage ascent. Photo credit: SpaceX

“Falcon launched 67 missions in the first six months of 2024,” SpaceX said in a Tuesday tweet about the X, “delivering nearly 900 metric tons to orbit so far this year.”

And as the flight rate increased, so did the reusability statistics. Boosters reached 20 launches for the first time. in Aprilthen it happened May 21th and the fleet leader B1062 was completed a record 22nd mission last monthOn top of that, a new record of less than two hours between a pair of Falcon 9 launches was set in early March and SpaceX managed to its first month of four launches from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.in January, before concluding its first five-release month on the West Coast in May.

Spacecraft B1073 turns Florida's Space Coast into a sleepy, daytime place in the minutes after 4:55 a.m. EDT Wednesday. Photo credit: SpaceX

With June ending after “just” ten launches — due in part to multiple weather delays on the East Coast affecting three missions and the T-0 abort of B1073 on the 14th — July is expected to be a dramatic month. Meteorologists with the 45th Weather Squadron at Patrick Space Force Base anticipated an 80 percent chance of acceptable conditions for an expansive “window” Wednesday from 2:57 a.m. to 5:59 a.m. EDT, tempered by a slight chance of violating the Cumulus Cloud Rule.

In response to this weather outlook, the teams decided to move their preferred T-0 point further into the window and targeted a 4:55 a.m. EDT launch. Fueling of the 230-foot-tall (70-meter) Falcon 9 with liquid oxygen and a highly refined form of rocket-grade kerosene (known as “RP-1”) began shortly after 4:15 a.m., and B1073 lifted off on time in the pre-dawn darkness of Florida for its 16th career launch and fifth so far in 2024.

B1073 launches the Amazonas Nexus geostationary communications satellite in February of last year. Photo credit: Jeff Seibert/AmericaSpace

B1073 entered service in May 2022 and its previous 15 missions launched more than 340 Starlinks on uphill flatpacks, as well as the SES-22 and Amazon Nexus Geostationary communications satellites in June 2022 and February of last year and launched a mission to the Moon in December 2022 with Japan's Hakuto-R lunar module, the Rashid rover for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and NASA's lunar lantern searching for water iceIn March 2023, on his seventh missionIt was the Falcon 9 with the most flight experience in carrying a payload, human or cargo, to the ISS. with the CRS-27 Cargo Dragon.

B1073 also compatible The 300th Falcon 9 launch last Januaryhelped consolidate new empirical records in March 2024 for the shortest interval between pairs of throws and a trio of throws and delivered the Bandwagon-1 “rideshare” mission with 11 payloads, including an array of small satellites from the United States, Japan, India, South Korea and Australia, in April. With this morning’s launch, it becomes the ninth Falcon 9 rocket to achieve a 16th flight. Since July last year.

B1073 will light up the Florida night sky on a Starlink mission in June 2023. Photo credit: Jeff Seibert/AmericaSpace

Eight minutes after liftoff, B1073 touched down on the deck of the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS), “A Shortfall of Gravitas,” offshore in the Atlantic Ocean. Elsewhere, the Falcon 9 second stage continued its uphill push, and all 20 Starlinks, including 13 Direct-to-Cell satellites, were deployed an hour after liftoff.

Nearly 6,700 Starlinks have been placed in orbit Since May 2019The network enables the provision of high-speed, low-latency internet to dozens of sovereign nations and international markets across North and South America, Europe, Asia, Oceania, and Africa. In May alone, Starlink connectivity became available in Uruguay, Indonesia, and Fiji, and Sierra Leone and Madagascar joined the network in June, bringing the number of sovereign nations or regions now fully covered to 80.

B1073 approaches landing at Cape Canaveral's landing zone (LZ)-1, as seen from nearby Titusville after its Bandwagon-1 mission in April. Photo credit: Jeff Seibert/AmericaSpace

The small-sized Starlinks V2 Mini, flew for the first time in February last yearThey boast three to four times the “usable” bandwidth of previous Starlink iterations. “V2 ​​Minis include key technologies, such as more powerful phased array antennas and the use of E-Band for backhaul, that will enable Starlink to provide 4x more capacity per satellite than previous iterations,” SpaceX explained. “Among other improvements, V2 Minis are equipped with new argon Hall thrusters for in-orbit maneuvering.”

And between January 2024 And this morning, SpaceX has already launched more than 100 Starlink satellites with Direct-to-Cell technology to enable mobile network providers to offer “seamless global access to texting, calling, and navigation” whether “on land, lakes, or coastal waters,” without the need to change hardware or firmware. Direct-to-Cell satellites feature advanced modems that serve as a cellular tower in space to eliminate dead zones with network integration similar to a standard roaming partner, according to SpaceX.

A Starlink payload stack is ready for launch. Photo credit: SpaceX

Florida-based intercity operator Brightline adopted Starlink on its trains in 2023, the first passenger rail service in the world to do so. Additionally, El Salvador’s Ministry of Education has begun integrating Starlink capability into its schools to help bridge the digital divide between remote urban and rural communities, and 50 schools in Rwanda are now connected via Starlink’s high-speed internet service. As of May, Starlink had approximately three million subscribers or registered customers worldwide.

FOLLOW AmericaSpace on Facebook and X!

    Leave feedback about this

    • Quality
    • Price
    • Service

    PROS

    +
    Add Field

    CONS

    +
    Add Field
    Choose Image
    Choose Video
    X