SpaceX launched Starlink for the first time this year after delays in large-scale ride-sharing missions forced a reorganization of plans.
The mission known as Starlink-16 or Starlink V1 L16 will be the launch of SpaceX’s 16th v1.0 communications satellite and the launch of its 17th Starlink. It was originally scheduled to follow SpaceX’s first dedicated Smallsat plan carpool launch on January 14, but after a series of chaotic incidents earlier this year, the Transporter-1 mission was postponed no earlier than (NET) January 21.
NET is scheduled to launch at 1:23 pm Eastern Time (US Standard Time) on January 17, making Starlink-1
What Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and Cape Canaveral Air Force Base (CCAFS) read in the comments made by Colonel 45th Space Wing on January 12 are expected to support up to 53 launches in 2021. 42-44 of these can be attributed to SpaceX.
This number coincides with CEO Elon Musk’s recent speech. SpaceX’s goal is to complete as many as 48 launches this year, of which 4-6 may be from the company’s Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Flying out of the facility. If SpaceX does manage more than 40 launches in Florida in 2021, it is safe to say that half (if not more) will be Starlink missions. In other words, SpaceX’s upcoming Starlink-16 launch is likely to be the first of about two planned in the next 12 months, possibly orbiting nearly 1,500 satellites within a year.
Only three days before the scheduled launch of Starlink-16, which of SpaceX’s five off-the-shelf Falcon 9 boosters will be assigned to support the mission. In terms of numbers, Falcon 9 B1049 is the best candidate. The most recent launch was in late November, 54 days before January 17. The Falcon 9 B1058 is the second “oldest” aircraft because it is the penultimate aircraft to be launched, giving SpaceX approximately 40 days to retrofit the Starlink-16 booster.
No matter which booster SpaceX chooses, it will guarantee one of the fastest turnarounds for Falcon 9-as the company strives to drastically reduce the average time between booster launches, this milestone is getting smaller. As SpaceX continues to gain experience in recycling and reusing carbon fiber composite nose cones, it is likely that at least half of Starlink-16’s flight-proven fairings will be available.
Assuming that Starlink-16 has the usual 60 spaceships, success means that SpaceX has officially launched more than 1,000 Starlink satellites since it started its special launch in May 2019 a year and a half ago. A successful launch will allow SpaceX to have approximately 940 functional spacecraft in orbit-half or more of the orbits are currently rising or phased.