July 17, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA
Discovery

SpaceX launches its first rocket launched 22 times and successfully lands on the high seas

B1062 sits safely on the deck of the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS). With 21 drone ship landings and one return to solid ground, it is now SpaceX’s record-setting frequent flyer. Photo credit: SpaceX

Adding another record to an already record-setting year, SpaceX took the slack from an unusually quiet mid-month to conclude the final days of a busy June on Thursday, delivering 23 additional Starlink Internet communications satellites to low-Earth orbit. The veteran B1062 booster, which became the first Falcon 9 core to launch for the 22nd time, rose heavily. from the historic Space Launch Complex (SLC)-40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 7:14 a.m. EDT for SpaceX's 66th mission of the year and ninth so far in June alone.

With 22 flights under its belt, B1062 has put more than 550 Starlink satellites into orbit. Photo credit: SpaceX

In stark contrast to the bad weather outlook earlier this week, Thursday's wide “launch window” from 7:14 a.m. to 11 a.m. EDT proved very favorable, with forecasters from the 45th Weather Squadron Patrick Space Force offering 90 percent “Go.” ” state. “Although sea breeze showers and thunderstorms are expected to develop in the afternoon and evening near the Cape,” it noted, “most of the spaceport should remain dry during the primary and backup launch windows.”

Only a marginal risk of violating the Cumulus cloud rule appeared to stand in the way of the launch, and Friday's backup opportunity had a favorability trend of about 85 percent. In preparation for launch, the East Coast-based autonomous spaceport unmanned ship (ASDS), “Just Read the Instructions,” set sail from Port Canaveral, bound for a recovery position at range bottom of the launch site in the Atlantic Ocean.

B1062 lifts off at 7:14 a.m. EDT for its 22nd mission. Photo credit: SpaceX

The mission flying this morning was B1062, which just this year became the first Falcon 9 booster to reach a twentieth release in April and a 21 last month. She went back into service. in November 2020 get up the fourth navigation and timing satellite of the Block III Global Positioning System (GPS III-04) to Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) for the US Space Force, followed by GPS III-05 in June 2021.

During 2022, it recorded eight launches, the most ever recorded by a single Falcon 9, notably flying twice in April. and setting a new (still intact) empirical record of just 21 days between flights of the same orbital-class booster.

GPS III-04 and US Space Force designs adorn the payload fairing of the B1062 ahead of its launch in late 2020. Photo credit: Jeff Seibert/AmericaSpace

B1062 is among a handful of vehicles that have launched two human crews. She flew Inspiration4's historic, all-civilian crew by Shift4Payments billionaire Jared “Rook” Isaacman, Sian Proctor, Chris Sembroski and Hayley Arceneaux in September 2021 and carried Ax-1 astronauts Mike López-Alegría, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe. on AxiomSpace, Inc.'s first fully private mission to the ISS, in April 2022.

In addition to those impressive credentials, including this morning's flight, B1062 has already carried more than 550 Starlink satellites on 15 missions, plus a pair of geostationary communications satellites: Egypt's Nilesat-301. in June 2022 and Saudi Arabia's Arabsat-7B (also known as BADR-8) in May of last year—As well as 40 broadband satellites for OneWeb, based in London, England. All but one of its 22 missions. ended with millimeter-precision drone ship landings, making B1062 the Falcon 9 record holder for the most successful offshore landings.

B1062 began its career with a pair of Global Positioning System (GPS) Block III launches for the US Space Force in 2020 and 2021. Photo credit: Jeff Seibert/AmericaSpace

In preparation for launch, fueling to the Falcon 9 began at 6:40 a.m. EDT and B1062 roared into the air just at the opening of the Thursday window. Eight and a half minutes later, it landed again on the deck of the unmanned spacecraft and the 23 Starlinks continued into orbit under the thrust of the single Merlin 1D+ Vacuum engine in the second stage.

The deployment was scheduled to occur after 62 minutes and 35 seconds of flight, which would bring to 1,048 the total number of these flat satellites launched in 47 “batches” since the beginning of the year. Almost 6,700 Starlinks have been launched into orbit since May 2019.

B1062's first human mission took place in September 2021, when it launched Dragon Resilience into orbit with the Inspiration4 crew of Jared “Rook” Isaacman, Sian Proctor, Hayley Arceneaux, and Chris Sembroski. Photo credit: Jeff Seibert/AmericaSpace

As a network, Starlink enables the delivery of high-speed, low-latency Internet to dozens of sovereign nations and international markets in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Oceania and Africa. In the month of May alone, Starlink connectivity was available in Uruguay, Indonesia and Fiji, and Sierra Leone joined the network in June, bringing to 79 the total number of nations or sovereign regions that will receive full coverage.

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

B1062 flies on the all-private Ax-1 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in April 2022. Photo credit: Jeff Seibert/AmericaSpace

And from January 2024, SpaceX has also flown multiple Starlinks “Direct to Cellular” to allow mobile network providers to offer “seamless global access to texting, calling and navigation” whether “on land, lakes or coastal waters”, without the need for change hardware or firmware. The Direct-to-Cell satellites, 13 of which will be aboard B1075 for tomorrow's Vandenberg launch, feature advanced modems that serve as cell towers in space to eliminate dead zones with network integration similar to the from a standard roaming partner, according to 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 close the digital divide between remote urban and rural communities and 50 Rwandan schools are now connected via high-speed Internet service. Starlink speed. As of May, Starlink reportedly had around three million registered subscribers or customers worldwide.

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

As B1062 triumphantly concludes its 22nd flight, another record is added to a growing list of achievements in 2024. It remains extremely remarkable that the boosters have achieved such high levels of reusability in a comparatively short period of time. Just in March 2017 Did SpaceX reuse a Falcon 9 core that had flown before for a second launch?

Those numbers increased rapidly as drivers achieved increasing numbers of missions and consolidated increasing levels of maturity. The boosters achieved the third flight for the first time in December 2018, the fourth in November 2019fifth in March 2020sixth in August 2020seventh in November 2020eighth in January 2021nineth in March 2021tenth in May 2021eleventh in December 2021twelfth in March 2022thirteenth in June 2022 and the fourteenth and fifteenth of September and December 2022.

The plume of smoke from B1062's nine Merlin 1D+ engines appears to burst radially into the rarefied upper atmosphere at the end of the first stage's ascent during its 19th flight in March. Photo credit: Jeff Seibert/AmericaSpace

With boosters initially certified by SpaceX for only 15 missions, the “active” status of two fleet leaders was suspended for six months in the first half of last year while recertification began to extend their operational life to 20 flights. Veteran B1058 logged a record-breaking sixteenth mission. last julya seventeenth in Septemberone eighteenth in November and a nineteenth a few days before christmas.

Unfortunately, that nineteenth launch turned out to be her last, as although the mission was successful, rough seas and winds caused her to crash onto the deck of the ASDS during her recovery and post-flight transit back to port. and she was lost. The baton was then passed to her sisters B1061, B1062 and B1067, which reached 20 launches in the first half of 2024. For her part, B1062 was the first to reach a 20th release in April and a 21st last month.

B1062 launches into the dark skies over Florida at 8:32 pm EDT on May 18 for its 21st mission. Photo credit: Jeff Seibert/AmericaSpace

Sixteen reusable Falcon 9 cores, including a pair of new cores that came online in January and March—contributed to the success of 2024, achieving the first month of ten SpaceX missions in Januaryhis first month of mission eleven and twelve in March and now its first month of 13 and 14 missions In May and with an average release every 2.7 days. Forty-seven of the year's 66 launches have been dedicated to launching 1,048 Starlinks, and another four launched large geostationary communications satellites for Eutelsat based in Sweden, Indonesia, Paris and France. and SES, based in Luxembourg.

two pairs of manned and Unmanned Missions to the International Space Station (ISS) have also taken off, as well as spacecraft. to explore Earth's oceans and atmospheric health and The potential habitability of the Moon.In addition to increasing monthly launch totals, SpaceX flew four times from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. for the first time in Januarythen concluded its first month of five releases on the West Coast in May.

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