Another launch of Starlink satellites and expected crash of Chinese rocket.

Look at the contrast between private-sector space exploration in the United States and government run space exploration in China.

5/9/21 – Amy Thompson at Space.com – SpaceX launches 60 Starlink satellites in record 10th liftoff (and landing) of reused rocket –  On 5/9/21, SpaceX put another load of 60 satellites into orbit, increasing the constellation of Internet-providing satellites.

Of note is that this is the 10th launch and recovery of this particular Falcon 9 rocket. That is the highest number of reuses yet of any in their fleet.

The goal, announced three years ago, is to fly each booster 10 times before major refurbishment and ultimately get up to 100 flights out of every booster.

Also of note is they had two launches in the same week.

Of the 14 launches in 2021, 11 of them have been used to lift Starlink satellites.

Article says SpaceX has “more than 1,600” Starlink sats in orbit, which include some that have already stopped working. Exact number is not listed.

Company says 500,000 people have preordered the satellite service.

Another article (I lost the link and will not look for it) said both of the fairing halves were recovered.

So, successful lift of 60 satellites, successful recovery of the falcon 9 booster, and successful recovery of the two fairings.

Cool.

In the not so cool category…

Crash of Chinese Long March 5B rocket

Having an uncontrolled reentry from the Long March 5B is designed into the rocket; it is not a bug or an accident according to Behind the Black on 4/30/21: China’s 21-ton Long March 5B core stage to make uncontrolled re-entry.

The engine is designed so that it cannot be restarted after it is shut down. This means as a design feature the deorbit cannot be controlled.

BtB article also says this is a violation of the Outer Space Treaty, which China has signed.

5/9/21 – Space.com – Huge Chinese rocket booster falls to Earth over Arabian Peninsula – The US Space Command reports the Chinese Long March 5B reentered the atmosphere over the Arabian Peninsula. They were not able to identify whether the remnants impacted on land or water.

5/9/21 – The Guardian – “Irresponsible”: NASA chides China as rocket to be lands in Indian Ocean – China identified the location of the impact as West of Maldives. That is something in the range of 2000 miles from the coast of the Arabian Peninsula.

With the speed it was traveling and I’m guessing at the angle of trajectory, I will make another guess that information from Space Command and China is consistent – the rocket likely entered the atmosphere over the Arabian Peninsula, travelling another 2,000 miles or so before impacting near Maldives.

Article points out Space Command is also unable to identify the size of the debris field.

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