July 14, 2024

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SpaceX has already raised the Falcon 9 rocket vertically for the upcoming Starlink launch

A few days after a pair of Falcon 9 rockets launched 106 satellites from Starlink in Less than 23 hoursSpaceX has already lifted another Falcon 9 rocket vertically for another Starlink mission — set to be the fourth this month.

That mission – Starlink 4-18 – will see SpaceX launch another batch of 53 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center LC-39A panel, which supported different Starlink launches (4-17) before 11 Just a day. Weather for Wednesday 6:20AM EDT (10:20 UTC) is expected Being favorable is 80%, which makes it good to take off on time.

SpaceX says the former Falcon Heavy B1052 side booster – which was converted into a Falcon 9 booster in late 2021 – will launch for the fifth time in support of the Starlink 4-18. In an interesting development and a testament to SpaceX’s confidence in both that conversion and in restoring the Falcon Booster, next space trip I recently mentioned that B1052 . will be converted Back to the Falcon Heavy side booster and will join the B1053 side booster – unused since June 2019 – for the launch of a large commercial geostationary satellite known as ViaSat-3 Americas as early as September 2022.

B1052 during its first landing as a side booster from the Falcon Heavy and the first and second launch as a Falcon 9 booster. (Richard Engel / USAF / SpaceX)

As is now usual, Starlink 4-18’s gift flight proficiency will also likely be demonstrated. Only the Falcon 9’s consumable upper stage, a few Starlink payload adapter components, and the Starlink satellites themselves will be new, allowing SpaceX to achieve unprecedented affordability and marginal launch costs as low as $15 million. Even including a conservative cost estimate of $500,000 to $1 million per Starlink V1.5 satellite, the full marginal cost of a modern Starlink launch is likely to be less than $30-45 million, while competitors like OneWeb have paid more than 50 million dollars only for the launch of services.

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Starlink’s competitor to Amazon’s “Project Kuiper” is even worse off after crafting an unprecedented string of Billions of dollars in contracts It would probably guarantee that launch services alone cost at least $100-125 million per mission.

Starlink 4-18 will be SpaceX’s 46th dedicated launch of Starlink’s operating satellites and will raise the bar The overall figure From Starlink satellites operating in orbit to about 2,370 if all goes well. Tune in below at about 6:10AM EDT (10:10 UTC) to watch the launch live.

SpaceX has already raised the Falcon 9 rocket vertically for the upcoming Starlink launch