SpaceX’s third launch of the 60-satellite Starlink is what people from the company are talking about right now, and if everything goes by the book, the company could become the owner of the world’s largest operational satellite constellation.
On the 24th of May, Falcon 9 flew for the very first time on a Starlink launch, which placed the prototype in the LEO – Low Earth Orbit, from where they deployed solar arrays and started to fire up their electric krypton thrusters in order to reach the operational 550km orbits.
SpaceX Starlink to be the largest satellite constellation
Out of those 60 prototypes, many of when was intentionally deorbited, and other ones failed. 51 of them reached the final orbit and started their operations.
As it was expected in mid-October, delays pushed the next Starlink launch of SpaceX – Starlink-1, the first launch of the v1.0 satellites – for November. On the 11th of November, Falcon 9 B1048 and a payload fairing lifted off with 60 more satellites, which also made it the first time a Falcon 9 booster managed to finish four orbital launched.
The new Ka-band antennas were upgraded with four times the overall bandwidth, and they also had improved structures. They also got more steerable beams on each antenna. The 60 satellites came online and began to raise their orbits.
FCC granted SpaceX
SpaceX got FCC approval for testing the satellites at a lower altitude – of 350 km. They launched a parking orbit of 280 km. This way, they made it sure that there was not any debris or a spacecraft that failed to reenter the atmosphere of Earth in just a few months, while also avoiding all risks for the International Space Station (ISS), that’s around 400 km.
Ten days after the propulsion, 55 of those 60 satellites have raised their orbits to about 350 km. 22 of those 55 are reaching for the final altitude, which is a bit higher. They will probably get to the beginning of a separate orbital plane.