SpaceX has launched its latest batch of Starlink satellites on Monday, January 7th. The launch scheduled for 9.49 a.am. EST (14:49 UTC), now leaves the space company with approximately 250 satellites in Earth‘s orbit.
This is the company’s fourth dedicated launch, known as Starlink V1 L3 – the third launch of V1.0 satellites – has increased the number of probes SpaceX has sent to orbit to 240. Relying upon past statements from officials and SpaceX’s own Starlink.com website, efficiently completing the Starlink V1 L3 could have the company hop away from the prime-time of the Internet constellation in space.
A Well-Thought Design
SpaceX presented the world with the use of ‘subcooled’ liquid oxygen and kerosene on its Falcon launch rockets since 2016, supported by the fact that its propellant becomes incredibly denser as it cools down.
By complying with the fact that liquid oxygen and kerosene actually become slush as it solidifies, SpaceX was able to enhance Falcon 9‘s cargo capacities by an outstanding 30 percent or more. To enjoy that benefit, though, the rocket’s propellant has to remain as cold as possible, which begins to warm the second it leaves the separated storage tanks and gets into the Falcon 9.
Therefore, the company has to load Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy with propellant as late as possible, such as no sooner than 35 minutes before launch on all the latest take-offs. In other words, if the weather is more on the ‘bad’ slum, SpaceX is always able to delay a scheduled launch attempt before fuel loading begins. This well-thought procedure saves the vehicle from a useless thermal cycle, as well as the propellant that might otherwise be lost.
A Record-Breaking Rhythm
A successful Starlink V1 L3 mission would also mean that SpaceX has launched an outstanding number of spacecraft – a total of 120. All of them were launched in batches of 60 and weighted more than 30 metric tons, in less than 20 days.
SpaceX is rather humble, but this mission is very likely to mark the latest global record attained by the company. It is coming close to the recent dominance as the newest owner of the world’s most massive private satellite constellation with more than 180 spacecraft so far.
Even so, the ultimate aim of Starlink is, evidently, to offer record-breaking high-performance Internet services to clients all over the Earth. The availability of those services is most probably more than 20 dedicated SpaceX launches away from actuality, but the space company has previously stated that it will begin providing Internet to customers in ‘the Northern U.S. and Canada in 2020.’
Back in 2019, around summer, SpaceX also said that a regional North America beta test could go live after only six satellite launches. With a little luck, that could mean the company is only two Starlink lift offs away from being able to offer its first non-employee customers the incredibly acclaimed Internet based on space.
Considering SpaceX’s current launch rhythm, six Starlink launches may well be announced by the company by the end of next month, and will perhaps happen a month or less from now.