With the recent Starlink satellite launch on Nov. 24, SpaceX set a new landmark in the reuse of Falcon 9 as the organization receives approval to introduce Starlink satellites into a new orbit. The Falcon 9 rocket took off at 9:13 p.m. from Space Launch Complex 40 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Base. The East. Around 15 minutes later, the rocket’s upper stage launched the payload of 60 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit. The first stage of the rocket landed in the Atlantic on a droneship, completing its record-setting seventh launch. The stage flew for the first time in September 2018 with the Telstar 18 Vantage satellite launch, followed in January 2019 by the final Iridium flight. The rocket then successfully launched missions with Starlink, most recently on Aug. 18, beginning in May 2019.

The launch also was the 100th overall for Falcon 9, a figure that involves a launch failure in June 2015, but not the loss of another on the pad in September 2016 during preparations for a static-fire drill. 955 Starlink satellites, of which 895 are in orbit, have now been deployed by SpaceX. In the northern U.S. and southern Canada, the corporation has begun a pilot test of the satellites’ wireless internet access. “The company said during the webcast of this launch that in late January or early February it would expand the beta test “in a notable way.

To date, SpaceX has deployed orbital Starlink satellites at an angle of 53 degrees, maximizing coverage over mid-latitude areas but not including higher latitudes, such as Alaska, northern Canada, and northern Europe. The company’s initial Federal Communications Commission authorization called for additional satellites at higher orbits and inclinations. Still, the company requested a proposed amendment in April to limit all satellites to orbits between 540 kilometers and 570 kilometers, including those at high orbit inclinations. SpaceX requested approval in a Nov. 17 filing with the FCC to send satellites into a sun-synchronous orbit. It sought permission to launch 58 satellites at an inclination of 97.6 degrees into one of the six orbital planes as early as December, claiming that this would allow the company to offer broadband services in rural Alaska.

SpaceX is now presenting this request because it has an opportunity for the polar launch that is scheduled in December that could be used to launch its service to some of the country’s most remote regions,” the company said in the filing, arguing that “launching into polar orbits would allow SpaceX to carry the same high-quality broadband service to the most remote areas of Alaska that other Americans have come to.


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