Lift Off Time
(Subject to change)
|January 29, 2020 – 14:06:00 UTC | 09:06 EST|
|Starlink 3, (third operational launch)|
|Falcon 9 Block 5, B1051.3|
|Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at CCAFS, Florida|
|15,600 kg (~34,400 lb)|
Where are the satellites going?
|Low Earth Orbit 550km (Initially 290 km)|
Will they be attempting to recover the first stage?
Where will the first stage land?
|600km downrange aboard SpaceX’s autonomous spaceport drone ship ‘Of Course I Still Love You.’|
Will they be attempting to recover the fairings?
|Yes, fairing recovery is expected|
Are these fairings new?
This will be the:
|– 80th flight of a Falcon 9|
– 49th booster landing
– 31st re-flight of a booster
– 3rd mission for SpaceX in 2020
Where to watch
Everyday Astronaut won’t be streaming this launch, but he will be filming it in person.
What’s all this mean?
SpaceX will be launching 60 satellites on top of its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. This will be the fourth operational launch of SpaceX’s near-global satellite constellation – Starlink, which aims to deliver a fast, low-latency broadband internet service to locations where access has previously been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable. SpaceX plans to offer service in North America by the end of 2020 and estimates that once complete, its venture will make $30-50 billion annually. The funds from which will, in turn, be used to finance its ambitious Mars program.
After boosting the second stage along with its payload towards orbit, the first stage will perform an entry burn to slow the vehicle down in preparation for atmospheric reentry. The booster will then land 600km downrange aboard SpaceX’s autonomous spaceport drone ship ‘Of Course I Still Love You.’ SpaceX will also attempt to recover both fairing halves with their humorously named fairing catcher vessels: ‘GO Ms. Tree‘ and ‘GO Ms. Chief.’
The twice-flown booster supporting this mission (B1051.3) previously flew DM-1, an uncrewed demonstration of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft. The booster made its second flight on June 12th, 2019, launching the RADARSAT constellation out of SpaceX’s West Coast launch site at Vandenburg AFB.
To achieve initial coverage, SpaceX plans to form a net of 12,000 satellites, which will operate in conjunction with ground stations, akin to a mesh network. Furthermore, the company recently filed for FCC permission on an additional 30,000 spacecraft, which, if granted, could see the constellation amount to a lucrative 42,000. This would octuple the number of operational satellites in earth orbit, further raising concerns regarding the constellations effect on the night sky and earth-based astronomy. Such mega-constellations have only recently been made possible with the advent of reusable rocketry, pioneered by SpaceX. For more information on Starlink, I recommend watching the Real Engineering video listed below.