Beautiful Predawn SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch Delivers Next Batch Starlink Satellites to Orbit: Photos

Beautiful Predawn SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch on Next Starlink Mission: Photos
SpaceX Starlink 4-17 mission Fisheye Streak to orbit with VAB: Beautiful but brief blastoff view 5:42 a.m. EDT on May 6, 2022 from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on 12x flown Falcon 9 booster B1058 with water reflecting flames in turn basin, bird on buoy and empty SLS pad 39B. Disappeared <20 sec behind thick low clouds above KSC – fully illuminating whole sky overhead. Delivered 53 Starlink internet satellites to orbit on Starlink 4-17 mission. Landed on ASOG droneship. Single long duration image bracketed with VAB at left with ghostly media colleagues and 3 masts pad 39B (c) and launch at right. Credit: Ken Kremer/spaceupclose.com

For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – A veteran SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket delivered the next batch of Starlink broadband internet satellites to LEO from NSA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida during a beautiful predawn launch Friday, May 6.

As witnessed from our viewing location at the KSC Press site the Falcon 9 quickly disappeared in less than 20 seconds into completely overcast skies over the Florida Space Coast but afforded a very loud experience with the sound waves partially reverberating back down from the thick low clouds to ground viewing.

Nevertheless. the scene was spectacular and briefly turned night into day – see our lead photo of the SpaceX Falcon 9 streak to orbit on the mission designated Starlink 4-17.

SpaceX Falcon 9 blast off at 5:20 a.m. EST (0920 GMT) on May 6, 2022 from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, delivering 53 Starlink internet satellites to orbit on Starlink 4-17 mission on 12x flown booster B1058. Credit: Ken Kremer/spaceupclose.com

However, viewers elsewhere ringing the pad just a few miles further north and south witnessed much clearer views as the Falcon 9 punched through the low clouds and back out on the path to orbit and some even witnessed the fantastic ‘space jellyfish’ effect that can sometimes be seen within about an hour before dawn or after sunset as the Falcon 9 rises into daylight

Launch of the 229-foot tall (70 meter) two stage Falcon 9 took place Friday, May 6 at 5:20 a.m. EST (0920 GMT) from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying a payload of 53 Starlink broad band high speed internet satellites to low Earth orbit on the Starlink 4-17 mission – during an instantaneous launch window.

SpaceX Starlink 4-17 mission Wide Angle Streak to orbit with VAB: Beautiful but brief blastoff view 5:42 a.m. EDT on May 6, 2022 from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on 12x flown Falcon 9 booster B1058 with water reflecting flames in turn basin. Disappeared <20 sec behind thick low clouds above KSC – fully illuminating whole sky overhead. Delivered 53 Starlink internet satellites to orbit on Starlink 4-17 mission. Landed on ASOG droneship. Single long duration image bracketed with ghostly media colleagues and 3 masts pad 39B at center, the author at center right and launch at right. Credit: Ken Kremer/spaceupclose.com

The Starlink 4-17 launch also came just 5 hours after the splashdown of the SpaceX Crew Dragon with the Crew-3 astronaut quartet from the US and Germany returning from a 6 month science expedition aboard the International Space Station (ISS) – continuing an incredible cadence of launches and landings by SpaceX.

Falcon 9 flew aloft flawlessly and beautifully away on a northeasterly trajectory.

Eight and a half minutes later following stage separation at 2 minutes 35 seconds the ‘flight-proven’ Falcon 9 B1058.12 nailed the precision guided touchdown on the ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas (ASOG) drone ship prepositioned some 400 miles (640 km) off the coast of the Carolina’s in the Atlantic Ocean.

SpaceX Falcon 9 blast off at 5:20 a.m. EST (0920 GMT) on May 6, 2022 from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with water reflecting flames in turn basin, delivering 53 Starlink internet satellites to orbit on Starlink 4-17 mission on 12x flown booster B1058. Credit: Ken Kremer/spaceupclose.com

The Starlink 4-17 blastoff of 1st stage B1058 counts as its 12th flight to space & back – tying two other for the distinction of fleet leader.

Overall this marked the 44th SpaceX mission dedicated to Starlink launches and the 18th Falcon 9 launch this year  – as well as being the 152nd Falcon 9 launch since its debut on June 4, 2010.

 

SpaceX Falcon 9 blast off at 5:20 a.m. EST on May 6, 2022 from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, delivering 53 Starlink internet satellites to orbit on Starlink 4-17 mission on 12x flown booster B1058. Credit: Jean Wright/spaceupclose.com

The first stage booster supporting this mission B1058 previously launched Crew Demo-2, ANASIS-II, CRS-21, Transporter-1, Transporter-3, and six Starlink missions.

Most recently B1058 flew on the Starlink 4-8 mission on 21 Feb 2022.

Friday’s liftoff also marked the 1st SpaceX Falcon 9 launch of May and will be followed by several more.

It follows two launches last week of NASA ESA Crew-4 and another Starlink.

It also follows a record  breaking six Falcon 9 launches just in the month of April.

SpaceX Falcon 9 blast off at 5:20 a.m. EST on May 6, 2022 from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, delivering 53 Starlink internet satellites to orbit on Starlink 4-17 mission on 12x flown booster B1058. Credit: Jean Wright/spaceupclose.com

Thus this phrenetic launch pace keeps SpaceX on track to achieve the record breaking goal of 50 to 60 launches this year of 2022 – the stated goal announced by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

This approximate one (or more) per week launch rate would about double the already record breaking achievement of 31 Falcon 9 launches set last year in 2021

SpaceX Falcon 9 blast off at 5:20 a.m. EST on May 6, 2022 from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with water reflecting flames in turn basin, delivering 53 Starlink internet satellites to orbit on Starlink 4-17 mission on 12x flown booster B1058. Credit: Ken Kremer/spaceupclose.com

Enjoy our photos of the Starlink 4-17 mission taken by the Space UpClose team of Ken Kremer and Jean Wright.

This Starlink 4-17 launch also closely follows by just one week the prior Starlink 4-16 launch on April 29.

SpaceX Falcon 9 blast off at 5:20 a.m. EST on May 6, 2022 from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with water reflecting flames in turn basin, delivering 53 Starlink internet satellites to orbit on Starlink 4-17 mission on 12x flown booster B1058. Credit: Ken Kremer/spaceupclose.com

The flat paneled solar powered Starlink satellites were all deployed as planned nearly an hour after launch at 54 minutes 30 seconds into a near-circular orbit ranging in altitude between 189 miles and 197 miles (304 by 317 kilometers), at an orbital inclination of 53.2 degrees to the equator.

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 2400 launched thus far.

This Starlink 4-17 mission counts as the 44th mission dedicated to launching Starlink internet satellites and raises the total number of Starlink satellites launched to 2,494 Starlink satellites to date. including prototypes and test versions.

A running tally is maintained by astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell of Harvard

https://planet4589.org/space/stats/star/starstats.html

Approximately 2247 of them remain in orbit and 2216 are still working and about 1745 are actually operational

The prior SpaceX launches took place on the NASA ESA Crew-4 mission to the ISS on April 27 and Starlink 4-16 on April 29 last week.

SpaceX also confirmed the booster B1058 soft landing on ASOG.

Watch this video:

 

 

Watch Ken’s commentary about Starlink, NASA SLS WDR demo test, NASA Crew-3, Crew 4 and SpaceX AX-1 mission:

Apr 29: WKMG CBS 6 with my commentary about the record setting Falcon 9 turnaround of 21 days since the Axiom-1 launch

Dr. Ken Kremer of Space UpClose interviewed on WKMG CBS News Orlando

Apr 22: Fox 35 Orlando features my analysis of the busy week ahead in space with weather delayed Earth return of AX-1 crew this weekend, launch of 4 NASA/ESA Crew-4 astronauts on SpaceX Crew Dragon NET Apr 26 & rollback of NASA SLS to VAB for repairs

https://www.fox35orlando.com/video/1060937

 

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.

https://www.wftv.com/news/local/unfavorable-weather-delays-axiom-1-splashdown/JT7VT5AMLZHU7NHAHTAR2265PA/

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:

https://www.wftv.com/news/video-small-valve-forcing-nasa-modify-critical-test-artemis-i/83355ff1-ce09-4b83-bbf0-23446b95abf7/

https://www.clickorlando.com/news/local/2022/04/12/nasa-resumes-final-test-before-launch-of-sls-moon-rocket/

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

https://www.wftv.com/news/local/nasa-artemis-mission-hold-testing-delayed-second-time/L637Y3454VDJPBZRH4RZMM2XRQ/

https://www.fox35orlando.com/news/nasa-resumes-artemis-i-wet-dress-rehearsal-countdown

 

Watch Ken’s continuing reports about SpaceX Crew and Cargo Dragons, SpaceX Axiom-1, Artemis, SLS, Orion and NASA missions, JWST, IXPE, DART, Lucy Asteroid mission, GOES, 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 & 4, 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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Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events

Please consider supporting Ken’s work by purchasing his photos and/or donating at Patreon:

https://www.patreon.com/kenkremer

 

SpaceX Falcon 9 blast off at 5:20 a.m. EST on May 6, 2022 from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, delivering 53 Starlink internet satellites to orbit on Starlink 4-17 mission on 12x flown booster B1058. Credit: Jean Wright/spaceupclose.com

 

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Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. 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. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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