[Update: Successful launch and deployment of satellites] First operational Starlink launch from the west coast

On Monday, SpaceX plans to launch their first operational batch of Starlink satellites from their launch complex out of Vandenberg Space Force Base. While the official name of this mission is Starlink 2-1 the launch will not carry the 2.0 variants we’ve been waiting for. Instead, these will be 1.5 version satellites and the 2 refers to the “group 2” of Starlink satellites.

This will be the first SpaceX launch from the west coast since Sentinel 6 in November 2020. This will also be the first full batch of Starlink satellites to launch into a polar orbit. Starlink 2-1 will host the first use of the droneship Of Course I Still Love you on the west coast.

Date: Monday, September 13th, 11:55 p.m. EDT

Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9 (B1049-10)

Payload: Starlink 2-1 (51 Starlink 1.5 satellites)

Launch Pad: SLC-4E, Vandenberg Space Force Base, California

Destination: 70-degree inclination orbit

Landing Site: Of Course I Still Love, Pacific Ocean

The Rocket

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is the workhorse of commercial launches into Earth orbit. The partially reusable rocket is powered by 9 Merlin engines on the first stage and a single vacuum optimized Merlin on the second stage. The Falcon 9 has launched a total of 124 times with a 98% success rate, making it a highly trusted vehicle among the commercial, scientific, and defense sectors.

The Booster

Boster 1049 will be SpaceX’s second Falcon 9 booster to attempt 10 flights. This is a big milestone for Falcon 9s as this was the original lifespan for the rocket. Since then, Elon Musk has stated the repeated launches have had minimal effect on the booster, so SpaceX will keep relaunching them until they see some sort of failure. B1049’s first launch was Telstar 18V back in 2018. Since then the booster has launched a collection of Iridium satellites and 7 Starlink missions.

B1049 launching Starlink L25 from LC-39A in Florida. Credit: Jared Locke for Space Explored

Tuesday, September 14th, 12:23 a.m. EDT: Confirmation of successful deployment of the Starlink satellites.

Tuesday, September 14th, 12:18 a.m. EDT: Commentator came back on to clarify, Starlink satellites should have deployed by now but they will not be able to confirm the deployment till T+26 minutes.

Tuesday, September 14th, 12:13 a.m. EDT: Unsure as to when deployment will be. The commentator stated it would take place after a roughly 30 minutes coast but the on screen timeline shows it has already passed. Reports stating deployment should have been at T+15 minutes and 32 seconds.

Tuesday, September 14th, 12:06 a.m. EDT: Shut down of the second engine and confirmed nominal orbit insertion.

Tuesday, September 14th, 12:05 a.m. EDT: B1049 has landing for the 10th time.

Tuesday, September 14th, 12:05 a.m. EDT: Stage 1 landing burn.

Tuesday, September 14th, 12:04 a.m. EDT: Stage 1 is now moving slower than the speed of sound.

Tuesday, September 14th, 12:03 a.m. EDT: Stage 1 has finished its entry burn.

Monday, September 13th, 11:59 p.m. EDT: The payload fairings have separated.

Monday, September 13th, 11:59 p.m. EDT: MECO: Main Engine Cut-Off, first and second stage separation and start up of the second stage.

Monday, September 13th, 11:58 p.m. EDT: Second stage engine has begun chilling.

Monday, September 13th, 11:57 p.m. EDT: Falcon 9 is supersonic and has reach the maximum point of aerodynamic pressure.

Monday, September 13th, 11:56 p.m. EDT: Liftoff!

Monday, September 13th, 11:55 p.m. EDT: Falcon 9 is GO for launch.

Monday, September 13th, 11:54 p.m. EDT: Stage 2 liquid oxygen is complete, Falcon 9 is now fully fueled.

Monday, September 13th, 11:53 p.m. EDT: The strong back is beginning to retract from the rocket, although we won’t be able to see it.

Monday, September 13th, 11:50 p.m. EDT: Stage 1 fuel loading has finished.

Monday, September 13th, 11:49 p.m. EDT: SpaceX have begun chilling the engines on the first stage. Preparing them for launch.

Monday, September 13th, 11:45 p.m. EDT: T-10 minutes till launch, weather is good for launch.

Monday, September 13th, 11:42 p.m. EDT: First live images from Vandenberg Space Force Base, and yes it is extremely foggy.

Monday, September 13th, 11:38 p.m. EDT: SpaceX’s livestream has begun.

Monday, September 13th, 11:21 p.m. EDT: The Falcon 9 should have begun loading propellants in its tanks. No visual confirmation so yet.

Monday, September 13th, 11:12 p.m. EDT: Reports from Vandenberg show a large amount of fog will hinder the visibility of tonight’s launch. SpaceX’s stream just went public recently and all signs show the launch being on schedule.

Featured Image: Jared Locke

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