While preparing for the launch of a German radar surveillance satellite from California on Saturday and the early-morning Globalstar communication and data relay satellite from Florida on Sunday, SpaceX launched 53 additional Starlink satellites from the Kennedy Space Center Friday. SpaceX plans to launch more than 50 Falcon 9 rockets this year, and launching three orbit-class rockets in less than 36 hours would establish a new US and commercial spaceflight record.
At 12:09 p.m. EDT on Friday, SpaceX launched its 158th Falcon 9 mission from Kennedy Space Center’s historic pad 39A, marking the company’s 24th launch in 2022 and 24th overall. The 53 Starlinks were freed to fly on their own fifteen minutes later, bringing the total number of Starlinks launched to 2,706. The satellites, which now include laser cross-connections to boost communication, are part of a rapidly expanding orbital network that provides high-speed internet access to business users in chosen parts of the globe.
The newer satellites are somewhat bigger than previous models, and they don’t have “sunscreens” to decrease reflected light, which might interfere with astronomical measurements. Satellite-to-satellite laser communications are disrupted by the sun visors. Despite this, the new Starlinks reflect somewhat less sunlight than previous generations, thanks to design improvements aimed at reducing the effect of the expanding constellation on optical observatories and broadcasts that might interfere with radio telescope studies.
Thousands more are expected to be launched by SpaceX. Starlinks, London-based To far, OneWeb has launched 428 broadband satellites, with Amazon’s Project Kuiper aiming for a network of over 2,300 satellites. All three firms are working hard to find ways to reduce the effect on astronomical research.
“However, mounting data exposes precisely how much these satellite ‘megaconstellations’ will interfere with astronomical observatories and other skywatchers throughout the world,” according to a recent article in the journal Nature. “Satellite businesses have yet to come up with a solution.”
According to The New York Times, the launch occurred amid allegations that SpaceX had dismissed numerous workers who took part in penning an open letter condemning business founder Elon Musk for the nature of his Twitter use – he’s trying to acquire the firm — and his public conduct.
The message “made individuals feel uncomfortable, intimidated, and harassed, and/or outraged since the letter encouraged them to sign onto something that did not represent their values,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell stated in an email to company employees obtained by the Times. “We have too much important job to do,” she added, “and no need for this type of overreaching activity.” A spokesperson for SpaceX was unavailable for comment.
SpaceX will now focus on launching Germany’s SARah 1 phased-array radar surveillance satellite from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, at 10:19 a.m. EDT (7:19 a.m. local time) on Saturday, now that the Starlink launch has been completed. Around 12:30 a.m. EDT Sunday, the business expects to launch a Globalstar data relay satellite from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, a little more than 14 hours later. The FM15 satellite, which was originally created as a spare, will now join a Globalstar fleet that provides satellite telephone, message, and data relay services.
Source: CBS News