Really SpaceX launches 53 more Starlink satellites


At 5:42 a.m. EDT (0942 GMT) on Friday, SpaceX launched a new set of 53 Starlink internet satellites from the Kennedy Space Center. The rocket successfully landed on SpaceX’s drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean, completing its 12th journey into orbit.

A Falcon 9 rocket stands on pad 39A before the Starlink 4-17 mission. Credit: Stephen Clark / Spaceflight Now

The Falcon 9 rocket was lifted vertically Thursday by SpaceX workers at Cape Canaveral’s pad 39A after being wheeled out of its hangar there. A computer-controlled sequencer will begin loading kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants into the Falcon 9 at T-minus 35 minutes. The launch crew will monitor this process.

The rocket will be pressurised with helium as well. The Merlin main engines of the Falcon 9 will be “chilled down” in the last seven minutes of the countdown before liftoff. For the 5:42 a.m. liftoff, the Falcon 9’s guidance and range safety systems will also be ready to go


Powered by nine Merlin engines, the Falcon 9 rocket’s 229-foot-tall (70-meter) height will direct its 1.7 million pounds of power into the northeastern Atlantic Ocean.

About one minute after liftoff, the rocket will reach the speed of sound, and then it will shut down its nine main engines. Once the rocket has separated, the thrusters will be fired, and titanium grid fins will be deployed to assist guide the spacecraft back into the atmosphere.

In order to land on the drone ship some 400 miles downrange, the rocket will need two braking burns.


On its 12th flight, SpaceX’s B1058 booster — the third in its inventory to reach that milestone — will blast off. The first test flight of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, which will transport passengers, will launch in May 2020, using the rocket.

The rocket booster landed on the drone ship “A Shortfall of Gravitas” around eight-and-a-half minutes after Friday’s launch.

The landing will take place just before the upper stage engine shuts off. At around 45 minutes into the flight, the rocket will restart the Merlin-Vacuum upper stage engine, allowing the 53 Starlink satellites to separate at a time of T+plus 54 minutes, 30 seconds.


As the rocket’s second stage burns out, retention rods keeping the satellites in place will be released, enabling the Starlink platforms to escape. A series of automatic activation processes will be followed by krypton-fuelled Ion Engine manoeuvres to put them in their operating orbit.

Launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the Falcon 9 will attempt to put the satellites into a near-circular orbit with an inclination of 53.2 degrees to the equator. Once in orbit, the satellites will utilise their own propulsion systems to maintain a circular orbit of around 335 miles (540 kilometres).

Friday’s flight will take place in one of SpaceX’s five “shells” for the company’s worldwide internet infrastructure. Consumers will be able to buy Starlink service and connect to the network via a ground terminal provided by SpaceX after the satellites reach operational orbit.


In all, 2,494 Starlink satellites have been launched by SpaceX, including those that have been deactivated or have had problems. At the time of writing, there are about 2,100 of these satellites in orbit and working, according to an astrophysicist’s list kept up to date by Jonathan McDowell.

ROCKET: Falcon 9 (B1058.12)

PAYLOAD: 53 Starlink satelllites (Starlink 4-17)


LAUNCH SITE: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

LAUNCH DATE: May 6, 2022

LAUNCH TIME: 5:42:00 a.m. EDT (0942:00 GMT)


WEATHER FORECAST: 90% chance of acceptable weather; Moderate risk of upper level winds; Low risk of unfavorable conditions for booster recovery

BOOSTER RECOVERY: “A Shortfall of Gravitas” drone ship east of Charleston, South Carolina



TARGET ORBIT: 189 miles by 197 miles (304 kilometers by 317 kilometers), 53.2 degrees inclination


  • T+00:00: Liftoff
  • T+01:12: Maximum aerodynamic pressure (Max-Q)
  • T+02:31: First stage main engine cutoff (MECO)
  • T+02:35: Stage separation
  • T+02:41: Second stage engine ignition
  • T+02:48: Fairing jettison
  • T+06:14: First stage entry burn ignition (three engines)
  • T+06:33: First stage entry burn cutoff
  • T+08:04: First stage landing burn ignition (one engine)
  • T+08:26: First stage landing
  • T+08:47: Second stage engine cutoff (SECO 1)
  • T+45:28: Second stage restart
  • T+45:29: Second stage engine cutoff (SECO 2)
  • T+54:30: Starlink satellite separation


  • 152nd launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
  • 160th launch of Falcon rocket family since 2006
  • 12th launch of Falcon 9 booster B1058
  • 133rd Falcon 9 launch from Florida’s Space Coast
  • 142nd launch overall from pad 39A
  • 48th SpaceX launch overall from pad 39A
  • 95th flight of a reused Falcon 9 booster
  • 44th dedicated Falcon 9 launch with Starlink satellites
  • 18th Falcon 9 launch of 2022
  • 18th launch by SpaceX in 2022
  • 18th orbital launch based out of Cape Canaveral in 2022

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