Launch Thread: SpaceX to launch another batch of Starlink V1.5 satellites [U: Successful launch and deployment]

This week SpaceX is preparing to launch a fresh branch of 48 Starlink satellites on top of its Falcon 9 rocket. This is the second Starlink mission to launch from Florida’s Space Coast since SpaceX completed its original orbital shell on Starlink L28 in May. The name, Starlink 4-3, stands for it being the third launch of the fourth orbital shell of satellites. Although 4-2 hasn’t launched yet, the names are set up well before the launch takes place. This shell will contain 336 satellites at an orbit of 560 km.

Alongside the Starlink satellites will be two BlackSky satellites. We’ve seen plenty of these Earth-observing satellites launch on Rocket Lab’s Electron.

Launch Date: Wednesday, December 2, 6:12 p.m. EST

Rocket: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 (1060-9)

Payload: 48 Starlink V1.5 satellites and two BlackSky satellites

Launch Pad: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida

Destination: Low Earth Orbit

Landing Site: A Shortfall of Gravitas, Atlantic Ocean

The Rocket

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is the workhorse of commercial launches into Earth orbit. The partially reusable rocket is powered by nine Merlin engines on the first stage and a single vacuum optimized Merlin on the second stage. The Falcon 9 has launched a total of 129 times with a 98% success rate, making it a highly trusted vehicle among the commercial, scientific, and defense sectors.

The Booster

SpaceX’s booster 1060 has been in the fleet since June of 2020, when it launched a GPS mission for the US Space Force. Since then, it has launched eight missions, including Starlinks, Turksat 5A, and Transporter-2. If successful, this will be the fourth Falcon 9 first stage to fly nine or more times.

Starlink 4-3 weather report

Even with a day delay for launch, the weather looks perfect for SpaceX with a greater than 90% probability of good launch conditions – something we don’t see often. The only possible concern is cumulus clouds, but that is a tiny chance.

  • Launch time set at 6:12 p.m. EST
  • December 1 (L-1 day) weather report
    • > 90% probabilty of GO
    • No additional risk criteria
  • Launch date delayed from December 1 at 6:20 p.m. EST to December 2 at 5:57 p.m. EST
  • Flight restrictions canceled for December 1 and 2 meaning most likly delay is coming.
  • November 30 (L-1 day) weather report
    • >90% probability of GO
    • No additional risk criteria

Featured Image: Jared Locke / Space Explored

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