First Starlink VisorSat takes flight aboard SpaceX Falcon 9
On Wednesday June 3, SpaceX successfully launched its eighth batch of Starlink satellites, lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at 9:25 p.m. EDT, 1:25 UTC on June 4.
The Falcon 9’s first stage previously supported the Telstar 18 VANTAGE mission in September 2018, the Iridium-8 mission in January 2019, and two separate Starlink missions in May 2019 and in January 2020.
Following stage separation, SpaceX successfully recovered the Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Just Read the Instructions” droneship, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. This was the first booster recovery mission for JRTI since coming out of a major retrofit period, and it follows on the successful recovery of the Demo-2 first stage on Saturday, aboard Of Course I Still Love You. Approximately 45 minutes after liftoff, SpaceX’s fairing recovery vessels, “Ms. Tree” and “Ms. Chief,” will attempt to recover the two fairing halves.
The Starlink satellites began to deploy in an elliptical orbit approximately 15 minutes after liftoff, but prior to orbit raise, SpaceX engineers planned to conduct data reviews to ensure that all Starlink satellites were operating as intended. Once the checkouts are complete, the satellites will then use their onboard ion thrusters to move into their operational altitude of 550 km. Notably, SpaceX is using this launch to will loft the first Starlink satellite with a deployable visor to block sunlight from hitting the brightest spots of the spacecraft.
Sean Costello, with files from SpaceX
Sean Costello is a technology professional who also researches, writes about and speaks publicly on the inspiring lessons within international space flight program. Prior to joining SpaceFlight Insider in early 2014, Costello was a freelance photographer and correspondent covering shuttle-era Kennedy Space Center launches for various radio and print news organizations.