Space

SpaceX gradually deorbits its previous Starlink satellites after the launch of the new constellation

SpaceX inaugurated a satellite cluster of 60 SmallSats to establish its robust network of broadband satellites to boost internet access services. One of SpaceX’s launch vehicles delivered the 60 miniature satellites in a space mission inaugurated in May 2019. SpaceX officials announced that the company’s satellite launch mission is the first among many inaugurations to establish its vast network of satellite constellations for broadband telecommunications. Elon Musk planned to roll-out massive satellite constellations to develop SpaceX’s satellite network to provide ultra-high-speed web access to people living on Earth. The company identified the ever-growing demand for affordable and reliable internet access at high speeds. Commercial institutions and state governments require robust internet connectivity to improve operational efficiencies in the digital consumer market. Modern technologies such as GPS navigation systems, information broadcasting from space stations and assets, military communications, Earth Observation satellites, etc. rely on internet connections that offer high speeds during uploads and downloads. 

After conducting successful satellite launch missions last year, SpaceX plans to deorbit these satellites that are barely 18 months old. The gradual decommissioning and phasing out of the predecessor Starlink satellites start as SpaceX successfully launched another massive satellite constellations on October 6. One of the company’s space inauguration vehicle from the family of Falcon 9 rockets launched from the Launch Complex 39A, a launch site at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Before the successful launch on October 6, the mission experienced several delays caused by poor weather conditions. On October 1, the launch suffered an abort at the mission’s T-18 seconds countdown due to a technical failure. The shuttle developers forgot to incorporate SpaceX’s out-of-family data to one of the ground sensors, a fatal omission that nearly cost the mission’s success. 

Nearly an hour after lift-off, the Falcon 9 rocket deployed its shipment of 60 Starlink broadband satellites from its upper stage. After a quick second burn in the rocket’s upper-phase, the rocket delivered the satellites to enable it to reach Earth’s lower orbital path. The launch vehicle waited for 20 minutes after the second burn before the deployment of the satellites. SpaceX said that the rocket’s maneuver is a tactic designed to accelerate arranging the satellites before moving them in orbit. The first rocket stage of the Falcon 9 successfully made its third flight, landing on SpaceX’s drone-ship sailing on the Atlantic Ocean. 

In conclusion, the new satellite constellation increases SpaceX’s cluster to a total of 775 Starlink broadband satellites successfully launched in nearly three years. The satellite constellation includes the first two prototypes that SpaceX launched back in 2018. However, about 47 satellites re-entered Earth because of natural decay and SpaceX’s deliberate maneuvers. 

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