CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida – The launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying 60 Starlink satellites is scheduled to liftoff today, Wednesday, April 22, 2020, at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Attempted Landing On Drone Ship
Following stage separation, the first stage of the Falcon 9 Block 5 will attempt a landing on an autonomous drone ship Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic Ocean.
SpaceX will also attempt to catch both fairing halves at sea.
This is the sixth operational launch of 60 Starlink satellites into orbit.
The 60 Starlink satellites are part of a next-generation satellite network developed by SpaceX to provide the globe with reliable and affordable broadband internet services.
Each Starlink satellite weighs approximately 500 lbs. (227kg) and features a flat-panel design with multiple high-throughput antennas and a single solar array.
SpaceX designed Starlink to connect end-users with low latency, high bandwidth broadband services by providing continual coverage around the world using a network of thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit.
Starlink Hall Thruster
Starlink satellites feature Hall thrusters powered by krypton to adjust position on orbit, maintain intended altitude, and de-orbit.
A Hall thruster is a type of electric propulsion device that produces thrust by ionizing and accelerating a noble gas, usually xenon.
While producing comparatively low thrust relative to conventional rocket engines, Hall thrusters provide significantly greater specific impulse or fuel economy.
This results in increased payload carrying capacity and a greater number of on-orbit maneuvers for a spacecraft using Hall thrusters rather than traditional rocket engines.
Starlink Space Junk Avoidance
Starlink satellites are capable of tracking on-orbit debris and autonomously avoiding a collision.
95 percent of all components of this Starlink satellite design will quickly burn in Earth’s atmosphere at the end of each satellite’s life-cycle which exceeds all current safety standards.