SpaceX launches heaviest payload on Falcon 9 rocket – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX launches heaviest payload on Falcon 9 rocket - Spaceflight Now
Written by admin

“Our action will allow SpaceX to begin deploying Gen2 Starlink, which will bring next-generation satellite broadband to Americans nationwide, including those who live and work in areas traditionally unconnected or limited by terrestrial systems undersupplied,” the FCC wrote in its Dec. 1 order partially authorizing the Starlink Gen2 constellation. “Our actions will also enable global satellite broadband service and help close the digital divide on a global scale.

“At the same time, this limited grant and associated terms will protect other satellite and terrestrial operators from harmful interference and will maintain a safe space environment, promote competition, and protect spectrum and orbital resources for future use,” the FCC wrote. “We are deferring action on the remainder of SpaceX’s application at this time.”

Specifically, the FCC granted SpaceX approval to launch the first block of 7,500 Starlink Gen2 satellites in orbits at 525, 530 and 535 kilometers at inclinations of 53, 43 and 33 degrees, respectively, using Ku-band and Ka-band frequencies to start . The FCC deferred a decision on SpaceX’s request to operate Starlink Gen2 satellites in higher and lower orbits.

Like the first Gen2 launch last month, Thursday’s Starlink 5-2 mission targeted the 530-kilometer-high (329 miles) orbit at an inclination of 43 degrees to the equator.

The Starlink 5-2 mission will add 56 more satellites to SpaceX’s Starlink internet network. Photo credit: Spaceflight Now

SpaceX currently has nearly 3,400 operational Starlink satellites in space, with more than 3,100 operational and about 200 moving into operational orbit. based on a table by Jonathan McDowella space exploration expert and astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

The first generation Starlink network architecture includes satellites flying a few hundred miles high and orbiting at inclinations of 97.6 degrees, 70 degrees, 53.2 degrees and 53.0 degrees to the equator. Most of SpaceX’s recent Starlink launches have released satellites in Shell 4 at an inclination of 53.2 degrees, after the company largely completed launches into the first 53-degree inclination shell last year.

It has been widely believed that Shell 5 of the Starlink network is one of the polar orbiting layers of the constellation, with an inclination of 97.6 degrees. But the name of the first Gen2 missions – Starlink 5-1 and 5-2 – seems to indicate that SpaceX has changed the naming scheme for the Starlink grenades.

SpaceX’s launch team was stationed at a launch control center south of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station for Thursday’s predawn countdown. SpaceX began loading supercooled, compressed kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants into the Falcon 9 vehicle at T-minus 35 minutes.

Helium also flowed into the rocket in the last half hour of the countdown. For the final seven minutes before liftoff, the Falcon 9’s main Merlin engines were thermally conditioned for flight through a process known as “chilldown.” The Falcon 9’s guidance and range safety systems were also configured for launch.

After launch, the Falcon 9 rocket directed its 1.7 million pounds of thrust – generated by nine Merlin engines – southeast over the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX resumed launches this winter using Cape Canaveral’s southeast corridor, rather than northeast trajectories, to take advantage of better sea conditions for landing the Falcon 9 first stage booster.

Throughout the summer and fall, SpaceX launched Starlink missions on trails toward northeast Florida’s Space Coast.

The Falcon 9 rocket exceeded the speed of sound in about a minute and then shut down its nine main engines two and a half minutes after launch. The booster stage separated from the Falcon 9’s upper stage and then fired pulses from cold gas thrusters and extended titanium grid fins to steer the craft back into the atmosphere.

Two brake burns slowed the rocket down about 410 miles (660 kilometers) for landing on the Just Read the Instructions drone ship about nine minutes after launch. The reusable booster, designated B1067 in SpaceX’s inventory, completed its ninth trip into space on Thursday.

The Falcon 9 reusable payload fairing was jettisoned during second stage burn. A recovery ship was also stationed in the Atlantic to recover the two halves of the nose cone after they fell under parachutes.

The landing of the mission’s first stage on Thursday came just as the Falcon 9’s second stage engine shut down to launch the Starlink satellites into orbit.

The 56 Starlink spacecraft, built by SpaceX in Redmond, Washington, separated from the Falcon 9 rocket 19 minutes after launch. SpaceX’s ground team was waiting to confirm the milestone for the spacecraft’s deployment when the rocket flew within range of a tracking station in Australia about an hour after launch.

Falcon 9’s guidance computer aimed to deploy the satellites in an elliptical orbit inclined 43 degrees to the equator and at an altitude of between 131 miles and 209 miles (212 by 337 kilometers). Upon separation from the rocket, the 56 Starlink spacecraft deploys the solar arrays and undergoes automated activation steps, then uses ion engines to maneuver into its operational orbit.

ROCKET: Falcon 9 (B1067.9)

PAYLOAD: 56 Starlink satellites (Starlink 5-2)

STARTING PLACE: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Force space station, Florida

PUBLICATION DATE: Jan 26th, 2023

START TIME: 4:32:20 am EST (0932:20 GMT)

WEATHER FORECAST: 70% chance of acceptable weather; Low to moderate risk of upper level winds; Low risk of unfavorable conditions for booster recovery

BOOSTER RECOVERY: Just Read the Instructions drone ship northeast of the Bahamas


TARGET ORBIT: 131 miles by 209 miles (212 kilometers by 337 kilometers), 43.0 degrees inclination


  • T+00:00: Take off
  • T+01:12: Maximum aerodynamic pressure (Max-Q)
  • T+02:28: First Stage Main Engine Shutdown (MECO)
  • T+02:31: Stage separation
  • T+02:38: Second stage engine ignition
  • T+02:42: Disguise shedding
  • T+06:42: First stage combustion ignition (three engines)
  • T+07:00: Combustion shutdown at the inlet of the first stage
  • T+08:23: First stage landing burn ignition (one engine)
  • T+08:43: Second stage engine shutdown (SECO 1)
  • T+08:44: First stage landing
  • T+18:49: Separation of Starlink satellites


  • 199th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
  • 209th launch of the Falcon rocket family since 2006
  • 9. Falcon 9 booster B1067 launch
  • Launch of the 171st Falcon 9 from the Space Coast in Florida
  • Launch of the 111th Falcon 9 from Pad 40
  • 166. Start overall from Pad 40
  • 141st flight of a reused Falcon 9 booster
  • 69. Falcon 9 launch, mainly dedicated to the Starlink network
  • 5. Falcon 9 launch in 2023
  • 6. SpaceX launch in 2023
  • 5th orbital launch attempt from Cape Canaveral in 2023

About the author


Leave a Comment