Elon Musk-owned SpaceX is all set to launch its 30th Starlink mission of 2022.
According to Teslarati, no earlier than (NET) 10:50 am EDT (14:50 UTC) on Thursday, a Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to lift off from SpaceX’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) LC-40 launch pad with 54 internet satellites in tow.
Weighing in at 16.75 tonnes (36,900 lb), the batch of Starlink V1.5 satellites is one of just a few left for SpaceX to complete the second of five ‘shells’ that make up its first constellation.
As per the report, even before Starlink 4-36 launch, more than two-thirds of the 4,408 satellites required to complete the constellation were already in orbit and (by all appearances) working as expected.
Of the 3,131 working satellites in orbit, approximately 2,700 are at their operational altitudes and theoretically capable of serving customers on the Earth.
Another 390 satellites are in the process of climbing to their operational orbits. Once they’re done, SpaceX’s first Starlink constellation will be more than two-thirds complete.The constellation is made up of five orbital ‘shells’ – distinct groups of satellites that share a similar orbital inclination (the angle between the satellite’s orbit and Earth’s equator) and altitude, the report said.
Two of those shells, known as Group 1 and Group 4, contain 3,168 satellites or more than two-thirds of the constellation, it added.
They are nearly identical and focus on Earth’s mid-latitudes, where almost every person (and customer) on Earth resides.
Both are almost complete: astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell estimates that 1,456 of 1,584 possible Group 1 satellites are operational. Group 4 is one launch behind, with about 1,405 working satellites in orbit.