Starlink 5-3 launches into the night

February 2 at 2:58 am E.T. from LC-39A at the Kennedy Space Center

Early this morning SpaceX successfully launched the Starlink 5-3 mission carrying another fifty-three satellites into orbit from atop a Falcon 9 rocket. Lifting off from LC-39A at the Kennedy Space Center just two minutes before 3:00 am E.T. This marks the seventieth operational Starlink mission and is what many are thinking is a test mission for the evolution of the constellation’s spacecraft, the Starlink generation 2 models. Namely because it did not go into the previously filled shell five, a polar low Earth circular orbit at 560 km, but instead the satellites were placed into a 43-degree orbit and will raise up to 530 km over time.

Recently SpaceX acquired the Internet of things or IoT company SWARM. Currently it is unknown how any new hardware or technology is being tested but is thought these may be paving the way for the proper v2 Starlink satellites to begin launch in the coming months on the Starlink 6-1 mission until the SpaceX Starship super heavy launch vehicle is ready to begin operations, then these Starlink missions will utilize that rocket for launch.

Falcon 9 B1069 flew just forty days ago on the OneWeb 15 mission where it returned to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s LZ-1. Since then, it has undergone refurbishment and made ready to fly again for this launch. Only now having launched five times for the company she is a relatively new booster with a rough beginning as on her maiden flight, CRS-24 she was badly damaged upon landing at sea on one of the autonomous drone ships. It was two-hundred-fifty days before her next flight, but now appears she’s going to be a regular in the launching fleet.