SpaceX has set a new milestone in Falcon 9 reuse as the company continues to seek permission to deploy satellites into a new orbit.
The Falcon 9 rocket set out from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The rocket’s upper stage released its payload of 60 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit a quarter of an hour later.
The first stage of the rocket landed on a droneship in the Atlantic, marking the completion of its record-setting seventh launch. The rocket launch doubles as the 100th overall for the Falcon 9, which includes a failed attempt in June 2015.
In total, SpaceX has launched 955 satellites, with 895 of them in orbit. The company has already commenced a beta test of the broadband internet service from the satellites in the northern U.S. and southern Canada.
SpaceX is reported to have launched Starlink satellites into orbits at an inclination of 53 degrees. This helps to maximize coverage over mid-latitude regions with the exclusion of regions such as Alaska, northern Canada and northern Europe due to their higher latitudes.
The company’s initial authorization from the FCC required other satellites at higher orbits and inclinations. However, SpaceX filed a proposed modification early in the year to lower all the satellites into orbits between 540 and 570 kilometers.
The company sought the permission of the FCC to launch satellites into sun-synchronous orbit. The request includes permission to launch 58 satellites into one of six orbital planes at an inclination of 97.6 degrees as early as December.
“SpaceX submits this request now because it has an opportunity for a polar launch in December that could be used to initiate its service to some of the most remote regions of the country,” the company stated in the filing, arguing that “launching to polar orbits will enable SpaceX to bring the same high-quality broadband service to the most remote areas of Alaska that other Americans have come to depend upon, especially as the pandemic limits opportunities for in-person contact.”
SpaceX is yet to give more details on the launch opportunity while claiming the justification of the request in line with a resolution with Amazon about a potential conflict with the company’s proposed Project Kuiper constellation.
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