After a delay of about 90 minutes due to weather factors, the SpaceX starlink Group 4-12 mission with 53 new satellites was successfully launched at 12:42 a.m. EDT on March 19. The company completed its 12th rocket launch and launch this year. The total number of Starlink satellites exceeds 2,300. In addition, the launch broke the record for the heaviest payload carried by a Falcon 9 rocket to date.
Since the Starlink Group 4-5 mission in January this year, SpaceX rockets have been taking a dogleg trajectory to the southeast to avoid unfavorable winter weather conditions for launches in the North Atlantic. However, with the return of spring, SpaceX will return to the northeast orbit used for the Starlink Shell 4 orbital surface launch since the Group 4-12 mission.
On March 19, ET, the B1051 Falcon 9 rocket arrived at the SLC-40 launch pad at Cape Canavera Space Force Station, and then lifted off smoothly at around 12:42 a.m. ET. About 9 minutes later, the first stage of the B1051 rocket was successfully recovered, which is also the successful completion of 12 orbital-level launches and recovery of the booster since its debut in the unmanned test flight Demo-1 mission of the manned Dragon spacecraft on March 2, 2019. , arguably the current leader of the Falcon 9 rocket fleet.
However, the B1051 model has a turnover of about 100 days between launches, while the newer B1058 and B1060 model boosters are only 50 to 55 days apart between launches. That is to say, the B1058 and B1060 are reused the fastest possible It will surpass the B1051 in May or June this year, and may have completed their 15th, 16th or even 17th takeoffs by the end of the year.
More than an hour after the launch, all 53 Starlink V1.5 satellites were sent into orbits about 320 kilometers above the ground, and will be slowly raised to working orbits in the next few months. As of now, SpaceX has launched 2,335 Starlink satellites, 2,112 satellites are in orbit, 1,575 have been positioned in working orbits, and 450 are entering working orbits.
The Starlink 4-12 mission is also the heaviest payload ever launched on a Falcon 9 rocket, at 16.25 metric tons.
As for the Ax-1 private space mission originally scheduled at the end of March, it will be postponed from March 30 to April 3; the Crew-4 mission carrying four NASA and ESA astronauts will be postponed from April 15 to April 4 19th of May.
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