For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – After a multi-hour delay for very gusty winds at the Cape launch site, SpaceX utilized a back up launch window later the same day and launched the next batch of Starlink internet satellites early Thursday afternoon, April 21, to low Earth orbit on a veteran recycled first stage booster from Florida’s Spaceport.
Besides high winds the skies overhead of the Space Coast were almost totally overcast with thick clouds and the 12x recycled rocket disappeared from view in less than 20 seconds.
Launch of the 229-foot tall (70 meter) two stage Falcon 9 took place Thursday, April 21 at 1:51 p.m. EST (1751 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida carrying a payload of 53 Starlink broad band high speed internet satellites to low Earth orbit on the Starlink 4-14 mission – during an instantaneous launch window.
The original launch attempt was targeted for Thursday late morning at 11:14 a.m. ET, but was scrubbed by the launch team due to high ground winds.
Due to weather, now targeting 1:51 p.m. ET for today’s launch of Starlink
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 21, 2022
SpaceX engineers were able to quickly reconfigure the flight to launch sone two and a half hours later when the winds had died down to an acceptable level – although they still seemed very high to those of us watching from the KSC Press Site just 3 miles away from pad 40.
The Falcon 9 flew aloft and away on a northeasterly trajectory.
Eight minutes later the ‘flight-proven’ Falcon 9 completed its 12th flight to space and back by nailing at precision guided touchdown on the ‘Just Read the Instructions’ drone ship prepositioned some 400 miles (640 km) off the coast of the Carolina’s in the Atlantic Ocean.
Overall this marked the 42nd SpaceX mission dedicated to Starlink launches and the 15th Falcon 9 launch this year
Enjoy our photos of the Starlink 4-14 mission taken by the Space UpClose team of Ken Kremer and Jean Wright.
This marked the 12 successful roundtrip flight to space and back for the Falcon 9 first stage booster designed as B1060.12 since its first launch on June 30, 2020 with a U.S. military GPS navigation satellite.
Falcon 9 B1060 first stage previously launched GPS III-3, Turksat 5A, Transporter-2, and eight Starlink missions including most recently Starlink 4-9
Overall this counts as the 149th Falcon 9 launch since its debut on June 4, 2010.
The flat paneled solar powered Starlink satellites were all deployed as planned nearly an hour after launch in an orbit between 189 miles and 197 miles (304 by 318 kilometers) above Earth, with an inclination of 53.2 degrees to the equator.
Starlink satellites deployed into initial parking orbit pic.twitter.com/73sOZkUJaJ
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 21, 2022
The goal of SpaceX’s Starlink constellation is to provide low cost, high-speed, low-latency broadband connectivity around the world.
SpaceX is targeting an initial constellation of about 4,400 satellites authorized by the FCC that could grow to literally 30,000 or more over time.
The roughly quarter ton solar powered Starlink satellites will use their krypton fueled ion thrusters to reach their operational altitude of about 335 miles (540 kilometers).
The payload comprises 53 upgraded Starlink internet communications satellites manufactured by SpaceX in their Redmond, Washington production facility – enlarging the existing and burgeoning broadband constellation to over 2300 launched thus far.
This Starlink 4-14 mission counts as the 42nd Starlink internet satellite mission and raises the total number of Starlink satellites launched to 2,388 Starlink satellites to date. including prototypes and test versions.
The next SpaceX launch involves the NASA ESA Crew-4 mission to the ISS targeting NET Apr 26, 2022 – pending the safe splashdown return of weather delayed Axiom Mission-1
A running tally is maintained by astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell of Harvard
Approximately 2150 of them remain in orbit and 2120 are still working and about 1685 are actually operational.
Watch Ken’s commentary about NASA SLS WDR demo test, NASA Crew 4 and SpaceX AX-1 mission
Apr 22: Fox 35 Orlando features my analysis of the busy week ahead in space with weather delayed Earth return of #AX1 crew this weekend, launch of 4 NASA/ESA #Crew4 astronauts on #SpaceX #CrewDragon NET Apr 26 & rollback of NASA SLS to VAB for repairs
Apr 20: WFTV ABC News Orlando features my commentary about the SpaceX static fire and impact of weather induced delays to departure of Ax-1 and launch of Crew-4.
Apr 15/16 & Apr 12/13: WFTV ABC News Orlando and WKMG CBS 6 Orlando featured my comments about NASA SLS WDR wet dress rehearsal countdown and fueling demo test and human launches to ISS:
Apr 6: WFTV ABC 9 Orlando featured my comments about 1st fully private astronaut launch to ISS by SpaceX on AX-1 mission:https://www.wftv.com/news/local/brevard-county/first-all-private-astronaut-mission-iss-set-liftoff-kennedy-space-center-this-week/FYE5QAT735BA7G42O6IVCJGB4Q/
Apr 4 & 5: WFTV ABC News Orlando and Fox 35 Orlando featured my comments about NASA SLS WDR wet dress rehearsal countdown and fueling demo test and human launches to ISS
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about SpaceX Axiom-1, Artemis, SLS, Orion and NASA missions, JWST, IXPE, DART, Lucy Asteroid mission, GOES, SpaceX Cargo and Crew Dragons, SpaceX Starlink, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon, Blue Origin and Space Tourism, and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2 & 3, ISS, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, NRO spysats and national security missions and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com
Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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