SpaceX sent a space tug aloft Sunday night (Sept. 4) with another large batch of its Starlink Internet satellites — and landed a rocket on a ship at sea.
On board with the Starlink Group 4-20 was the Sherpa-LTC2, which was provided by Seattle-based Spaceflight. The tug is carrying the payload for Boeing’s Varuna Technology Demonstration Mission (VARUNA-DTM), which is “intended to test V-band communications for a proposed constellation of 147 non-geostationary broadband satellites,” According to Space News (opens in new tab).
The first Sherpa-LTC orbital transfer vehicle was pulled from a January 2022 SpaceX launch opportunity due to a propellant leak, SpaceNews added.
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Sunday’s flight program called for SpaceX to bring down its first stage Hawk 9 The rocket returned to Earth for a gentle touchdown on the droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. The landing — the seventh for this particular booster — happened as planned, 8.5 minutes after liftoff.
Sherpa-LTC2 was launched from the top of Falcon 9 49 minutes later, Starlinks 23 minutes later, SpaceX. Confirmed via Twitter (opens in new tab).
SpaceX has already sent 3,000 Starlink satellites into orbit in an effort to build a large constellation of broadband services aimed at remote areas. SpaceX has already launched more than 25 Starlink-centric missions by 2022.
SpaceX’s 40th of the year and the Starlink megaconstellation, released on Sunday, were added. SpaceX has approved the launch of 12,000 Starlink satellites and has asked the international regulator to give the thumbs up for an additional 30,000.
In late August, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk T-Mobile announced direct beam connectivity plans for smartphones using Starlink. Another deal announced on Tuesday (Aug 30) will lighten the Starlink service Royal Caribbean Cruises.
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