After an absolutely gorgeous launch on a beautiful day, SpaceX deployed the first batch of 60 operational Starlink satellites in low earth orbit.
The countdown was uneventful, leading up to an on-time launch. Falcon 9 lifted off at 9:56am EST. This was the fourth flight for this particular booster, which made yet another successful landing on the droneship, Of Course I Still Love You. It will presumably fly again on a future mission, as SpaceX attempts to confirm how many flights each booster can handle. They have said the target is at least 10 flights. Only time will tell if they are able to achieve that many.
No fairing catch
If you’ve been following along, you know that this mission was to be the first time both fairing halves were to be caught by GO Ms Tree and GO Ms Chief. However, the twin ships encountered rough sea states on their way to the recovery zone, and were seen via satellite tracking B-lining it for the coast Sunday night before launch, and subsequently photographed in the Port of Morehead City, NC. The nature of the damage is unknown, but the dual fairing catch will have to wait for a future mission.
Aside from the inability to catch the fairings, the mission was a complete success. The Starlink satellites will gradually drift apart and take their positions in their orbital plane.
Before the satellites drift too far apart, the “Starlink train” will be visible to anyone with clear skies who looks at the right time. I highly recommend following Flight Club on twitter, as he will be helping people determine the right times to look for their particular region. I’ve seen it once myself, after the launch of the test batch back in May. Trust me, you want to see this!
SpaceX will perform checkouts of these satellites, and continue launching more over the coming months until there is enough coverage to offer internet service to consumers. It is still unclear how much this service will cost. But as soon as we know, we will share that with you.