SpaceX deploys more Starlink satellites as astronomers renew brightness concerns – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX launched 53 more Starlink internet satellites Friday on a Falcon 9 booster that flew for the 13th time. Credit: Stephen Clark / Spaceflight Now

SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 booster for a record-breaking 13th time Friday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, hauling 53 more Starlink internet satellites into orbit as astronomers renew concerns about the growing brightness of the latest generation of the broadband relay spacecraft.

The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center at 12:09:20 p.m. EDT (1609:20 GMT) Friday. The Falcon 9 steered northeast from Florida’s Space Coast to arc downrange over the Atlantic Ocean, aligning itself with the orbital inclination of SpaceX’s Starlink satellite fleet.

Two-and-a-half minutes later, the Falcon 9’s first stage shut down its nine kerosene-fueled engines and detached from the upper stage. The booster unfurled titanium hypersonic grid fins and headed for a drone ship parked in the Atlantic east of Charleston, South Carolina.

The Falcon first stage reignited a subset of its engines for two braking burns before settling onto the deck of the recovery platform “A Shortfall of Gravitas” to complete its 13th trip to space, a record for SpaceX’s fleet of reusable rockets.

Meanwhile, the upper stage guided the 53 flat-packed Starlink satellites — each more than quarter-ton — into a preliminary transfer orbit. The Falcon 9’s upper stage released the 53 spacecraft about 15 minutes after liftoff, notching another successful launch for SpaceX.

The first stage booster flown Friday — tail number B1060 — debuted in June 2020 with the launch of a U.S. military GPS navigation satellite. Since then, the booster has launched Türksat 5A communications satellite, SpaceX’s Transporter 2 small satellite rideshare mission, and now 10 Starlink missions.

The launch Friday was the first of three Falcon 9 missions scheduled in just 36 hours. Another Falcon 9 is set…

Read more at spaceflightnow.com

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