SpaceX drone ship heads to sea for Falcon 9’s next Starlink launch and landing


An advanced SpaceX drone ship is located approximately 630 kilometers (~ 390 mi) across the Atlantic Ocean to support Falcon 9’s next Starlink launch and landing.

This year alone saw SpaceX’s 11th StarLink launch, Mission 12th operational (v1.0) launch and 13th StarLink launch overall, together representing some 700 operational satellites in orbit. According to a May 2020 interview with SpaceX COO and President Gwenne Shotwell, those public beta tests may only begin after the completion of 14 Starlink launches, while recent FCC filings show that SpaceX is the only operational constellation As part of v1.0 is considering satellites. In other words, if successful, Starlink-12 would leave SpaceX just two launches away from a planetarium, enough to start public Internet service beta testing.

Meanwhile, the Falcon 9 rocket assigned to the mission will be on the verge of breaking SpaceX’s booster reuse turnaround record – set 51 days in between launches by the same boosters currently assigned to Starlink-12.

The Falcon 9B1058 – pictured here on 20 July – is assigned to Starlink-12. (SpaceX)

Known as the Falcon Booster 9B1058, the SpaceX rocket became the first American vehicle to launch astronauts since 2011, bringing NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley in a crew dragon spacecraft aboard the International Space Sent to station (ISS). Following a successful launch on 30 May, the spacecraft docked with the ISS two days later and spent more than two months orbiting before returning to Earth in early August.

Meanwhile, the Booster B1058 was kept busy while the spacecraft it launched was being put into orbit through its paces. On July 20, the rocket crushed SpaceX’s turnaround record when it launched South Korea’s ANASIS II communications satellite 51 days after supporting the inaugural astronaut launch of Crew Dragon. While the 51-day turnaround broke SpaceX’s previous record of 62 days, it set a much larger record, setting NASA’s Space Shuttle to become the fastest reusable orbital orbit rocket.

(Richard Engle)
The Falcon 9 booster B1058 is the first American rocket to launch astronauts in a decade. (SpaceX)

So far, the Falcon 9B1058 is scheduled to launch Starlink-12No (NET) 2:17 pm EDT (UTC-4) on Thursday 17 September. Barring delay, which would represent a change of 59 days from the record-breaking second launch of the booster. If Starlink-12 launches by September 19, the B1058 will be the proud holder of both SpaceX’s first and second-place records and will technically fly three times in ~ 110 days.

After Starlink-12, SpaceX aims to launch Starlink-13 in the month of September at the end of September and has scheduled its third US military GPS III launch – featuring the new Falcon 9 booster B1062 – before (NET ) Not earlier than 30 September. While unlikely, if everything stays on schedule, September 2020 could be the first four-launch month in SpaceX’s history.

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