SpaceX resumes parallel pad operations with Starlink v1.0 L25 mission -

Science 04 May, 2021 - 10:53am 11 views

B1060-7 returned onboard JRTI yesterday. Although it is not a life leader, it is quite a scorchy booster. As of when I left it appeared they were ready to put the lifting cap on. You can keep track of progress watching the NSF #Fleetcam view from Rusty's.

— Julia (@julia_bergeron) May 3, 2021

Falcon 9 soars into the skies over Florida as she departs on a previous Starlink mission. (Credit: Stephen Marr for NSF/L2)

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Connecting the Dots | Assessing top-down pollution

SpaceNews 04 May, 2021 - 04:00pm

Satellites are leading the charge in the battle against climate change, providing critical insights about Earth that can only be gained from space. But are they also contributing to the problem?

Putting aside environmental impacts of the rockets that launch them to orbit, satellites inject a complex mix of chemicals into the atmosphere when their computers, fuel tanks and other onboard materials vaporize upon reentry.

This wasn’t much of a talking point decades ago when the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) determined, categorically, that nothing it regulates in space could have an environmental impact on Earth.

Until recently, the number of satellites in space was so small, and their orbits usually so high, that there were very few re-entries.

However, the rise of Starlink and other megaconstellations with thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) are changing this.

Around 9,000 artificial satellites have been launched into space since Sputnik-1 became the first in 1957. In 2020 alone, SpaceX launched more than 800 satellites for a Starlink LEO broadband network that will provide continuous global coverage.

The ultimate destiny of LEO satellites is to burn up in the atmosphere after running out of fuel, pointing to an unprecedented number of reentries in the years to come as Starlink and other LEO constellations must continually replenish their networks.

Satellite operator Viasat, which provides broadband services that will compete with Starlink, had called on the FCC to assess the network’s environmental impact before granting SpaceX permission to expand the constellation.

SpaceX had regulatory approval for up to 1,548 satellites in orbits at altitudes around 550 kilometers.

It had a license to operate an additional 2,825 satellites at 1,100-1,300 kilometers, but requested permission to bring those down to 550 kilometers. The FCC approved the modification in an order published April 27.

SpaceX, which was estimated to have 1,434 satellites in orbit at the time of writing and has plans for a 42,000-strong constellation, was unable to comment.

The Healthy Heavens Trust Initiative and others in a coalition of public interest groups voiced their concern about satellite pollution, and other potential harms, in a March 10 petition to the FCC for emergency and expedited rule-making.

The coalition is so concerned about megaconstellations that it asks the FCC to pause approvals for broadband satellite deployments for 180 days, so the regulator can assess the risks.

Megaconstellation critics warn most of the damage to the atmosphere occurs at the upper layers, and only a fraction of pollutants make it there from the bottom up. Therefore vaporizing satellites could potentially introduce many compounds that wouldn’t usually reach such heights.

We can’t yet say for sure what that means for life on Earth.

The Aerospace Corp., a U.S.-based nonprofit, is in the early stages of researching the potential environmental impacts of reentry dust from satellites and rockets.

“As far as we know right now, the impact of space debris on the atmosphere is small, and certainly much smaller than aviation, and vastly smaller than terrestrial sources of pollution, or natural phenomena such as volcanoes,” says Ted Muelhaupt, principal director of Aerospace’s Center for Orbital Reentry and Debris Studies.

“However, the pace of launches and the rate of reentries will change in the next decade. In this case, reentry emissions could present larger global impacts than launch emissions.”

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WATCH: SpaceX launches Starlink satellites from Kennedy Space Center

WFTV Orlando 04 May, 2021 - 03:40pm

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — SpaceX launched a batch of Starlink satellites Tuesday afternoon from the Kennedy Space Center.

The company launched its 26th batch of about 60 satellites from Launch Complex 39-A at 3:01 p.m.

Launch officials had been keeping an eye on weather conditions in the recovery area, which would have affected the decision to launch.


After the launch, the first stage of the rocket returned for landing on the “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.

Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship – the 9th landing of this booster

This was the eighth time this particular Falcon 9 rocket booster has been used in support of a SpaceX mission.

Previous launches include Telstar 18 VANTAGE, Iridium-8, and six other Starlink missions.

The goal of the mission is to provide reliable and affordable internet across the globe.

The network is currently available in parts of North America and expected to be available globally in late 2021 or 2022.

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SpaceX schedules Starlink, Starship launches hours apart [updated]

Teslarati 04 May, 2021 - 03:55am

Update: SpaceX has called off Starship SN15’s Tuesday, May 4th launch attempt for unknown reasons. The rocket is now scheduled to fly no earlier than (NET) Wednesday, May 5th.

No evacuation needed as it’s a scrub for Starship SN15 launch today. #WenHop continues! 🔥🚀🔥@NASASpaceflight

Barring delays, SpaceX appears to be on track to launch a batch of 60 Starlink satellites and perform a fifth high-altitude Starship flight test mere hours apart on Tuesday, May 4th.

Around 1am on May 3rd, SpaceX completed a successful wet dress rehearsal (WDR) and static fire test with Falcon 9 booster B1049, an expendable upper stage, and the latest stack of Starlink satellites. Around eight hours later, as per usual, SpaceX confirmed via social media that the test was a success and that its 25th operational Starlink mission is scheduled to launch no earlier than 3:01 pm EDT (19:01 UTC) on Tuesday, May 4th.

Simultaneously, after a handful of delays, SpaceX also appears to be on track to attempt the first launch of a Starship with “hundreds of improvements” sometime between ~1pm and ~8pm CDT (18:00-01:00 UTC) on the same Tuesday.

Targeting Tuesday, May 4 at 3:01 p.m. EDT for Falcon 9 launch of 60 Starlink satellites from LC-39A in Florida, but team is keeping an eye on weather in the recovery area

F9/Starlink L25: SpaceX test fired a Falcon 9 first stage at KSC pad 39A at 1am EDT Monday; test appeared normal; we’ll await an update from SpaceX on test results and plans to launch another 60 Starlink internet satellites Tuesday

Starlink-25 will be SpaceX’s second daylight Falcon 9 launch in months – rare as of late due to arcane specifics of the constellation’s orbital mechanics. Aside from generally offering a much better view of the launch, Starlink-25’s 3:01 pm EDT launch target means that Falcon 9 and Starship SN15 could technically launch at the exact same time in Florida and Texas.

While it’s unlikely if SpaceX would actually allow truly simultaneous launches and unclear if such a thing is even possible, it is possible that SpaceX could launch Starship SN15 at some point in the ~50 minutes Starlink-25 will be quietly coasting in orbit. More likely, though, SpaceX will use Starship SN15’s eight-hour window and wait until Starlink-25 is complete unless some kind of encroaching weather system shrinks that window to a few hours.

That still means that Starlink-25 and Starship SN15 could launch less than six hours apart, though it’s far more likely that the experimental rocket prototype will suffer minor delays and grow that gap to a day or two. Additionally, SpaceX itself cautions that it’s “keeping an eye on weather in the [Starlink-25] recovery area,” meaning that conditions at sea could also delay the Starlink launch a day or two.

Ultimately, it looks likely that both rockets will launch before the week is out. Stay tuned to find out just how ‘back to back’ they’ll actually be.

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