SpaceX launched its latest set of Starlink satellites on Jan. 20, SpaceNews reported on Wednesday. With the launch, SpaceX has sent more than one thousand satellites for that broadband constellation. The Falcon 9 lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.
The Falcon 9’s upper stage deployed the payload of 60 Starlink satellites 65 minutes after liftoff. The rocket’s first stage landed on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX’s launch was the first time the company flew a booster eight times. The booster was most recently flown on the SXM-7 launch.
“We at SpaceX have certainly enjoyed what I would call a thoughtful and creative technical collaboration with an ever-widening group of astronomers,” Patricia Cooper, vice president of satellite government affairs at SpaceX said, resulting in a “deeper and fuller technical understanding of the intersection of the satellite constellation sector and specific projects affect ground-based astronomy.”
SpaceX has worked to develop a version of the Starlink satellites, VisorSat, featuring visors to prevent sunlight from reflecting off antennas and other surfaces on the satellites. The VisorSats will reduce the brightness of the Starlink satellites to magnitude 7 or fainter. The company will collaborate with astronomers to mitigate the effect of Starlink.
“It’s important to keep the purpose of this disruption to astronomy, from your perspective, in context of the goal of the constellation we’re deploying, which is broadband connectivity,” Cooper said. “This collaboration needs to continue,” she added, because those discussions are “what’s getting us to a much better, more successful way of coexisting.”