SpaceX's first Falcon 9 launch in 2024 features first 6 live-cell Starlink satellites – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX will launch its first orbital mission in 2024. The Starlink 7-9 mission consisted of the first six live-cell satellites. Image: SpaceX

Updated 9:31 pm EST: SpaceX corrected the assumed liftoff time.

SpaceX is wasting no time in kicking off what plans to be a historically busy year for orbital launches. The company launched its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket on the Starlink satellite mission on Tuesday night.

Liftoff occurred at 7:44 pm PST (10:44 pm EST, 0344 UTC) from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. Tuesday evening will feature the first six of 21 Starlink satellites Live-cell skills.

The launch was originally scheduled for mid-December, but SpaceX ran into undisclosed problems before launch and had to scrap the mission.

In a statement, SpaceX said the addition of DTC “will provide mobile network operators around the world with seamless global access for text messaging, calls and browsing… over land, lakes or coastal waters.”

During an event attended by SpaceX founder Elon Musk and T-Mobile CEO and Chairman Mike Sievert and scheduled for August 2022, Musk called the new addition “a huge game changer” that will help eliminate dead zones around the world.

“This is a really big deal,” Musk said during the presentation. “Even if an entire region or country loses connectivity due to severe hurricanes or floods or fires or hurricanes, earthquakes…even if all the cell towers are taken down, your phone will still work.”

Map of Starlink direct-to-cell service. Graphic: SpaceX

According to a November 30, 2023, email to Kathyrn Medley, Acting Division Chief of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Satellite Licensing Division, SpaceX is “launching approximately 840 live cell-capable satellites over the next 6 months. Additional launches will continue after that period.

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Jameson Dempsey, SpaceX's director of satellite policy and author of the email, wrote that planned and future launches “will ensure that a critical mass of satellites can be launched in time to provide commercial service in late 2024.”

“While we understand that the Commission may limit our test authority to only those satellites we expect to launch and test in the next 6 months, we request that the launch license include authority for 7500 satellites in our live-cell modification application. ” wrote Dempsey.

During the August 2022 event, Sievert noted that the upcoming service in the US will use existing T-Mobile mid-band PCS spectrum.

“This allows us to dedicate work together to the Starlink operating constellation, so that we see those satellites from every corner of the country,” Sievert said. “Our view is that if you have a clear view of the sky, you're connected.”

“You don't know your phone is connected to space. It will scan its home network, which will also scan terrestrial roaming partners,” Sievert Added. “If it fails to see those things, it will rescan and connect to an authorized connection from the satellite and think it's connected to a cell tower because the phone uses industry standard technology communication protocols. The spectrum is already built in. At least, most phones in circulation today do.”

The Falcon 9 rocket supporting Tuesday's launch has a first-stage booster, tail number B1082, which will be fired for the first time on this mission. After about 8.5 minutes, the booster drone lands on the ship, saying, 'Of course I still love you.'

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