There are many Starlink missions scheduled to be launched in 2021. SpaceX is planning on launching the Starlink v1.0 L16 mission which is the second mission of the year. The Starlink v1.0 L16 is the 16th launch amongst the operational satellites and overall is the 17th Starlink flight.
The liftoff of the same is presently planned for January 20th at 8:02 EST (13:02 UTC) from LC-39A at the Kennedy Space Center. This mission was supposed to be the third SpaceX as per the initial schedule. However, an unexpected delay in the Transporter-1 mission made Starlink v1.0 L16 the second launch.
In 2021, SpaceX aims for a new record of 48 orbital missions to be launched. The previous record of SpaceX was set last year when the company flew 25 orbital missions.
The Resolution of Starlink
Presently, the satellites which are orbiting have long lifespans (15 years or more) and are approximately 35,800 kilometers (22,245 miles) above the earth’s surface. Due to the higher orbit of the satellites, it generally takes more time for a signal to travel to and fro from the satellite.
The main aim of the Starlink satellites is to send short-lived (5 years) satellites in the lower orbit of Earth. The targeted orbits should be 550 kilometers (340 miles) or much lower. With the help of lower orbits, latency provided is much lower than geostationary satellites.
Laser interlinks provide faster data transfer
Laser interlinks have made life easier as it allows data to be transferred from satellite to satellite instead of satellite to ground station. As the speed of light is faster, it allows the prompter data transfer.
At least two Starlink satellites have been launched with laser interlinks. Additionally, on September 3rd, 2020, SpaceX declared two spacecraft had successfully tested the laser interlinks on board the satellites.
The 5 most-awaited space missions are as mentioned below:
Arriving on Mars:
Three countries are expected to land on Mars in 2021. The Perseverance rover—the main mission of NASA will be continued in the long-search of life on Mars. Apart from America, China is also ready for its first Mars mission—Tianwen-1. The United Arab Emirates also sent its first mission, the Hope orbiter, to the Red Planet as an inspiration to the next generation.
Starliner’s second uncrewed test mission:
When the Starliner Orbital Test Flight-1 (OFT-1) launched into space in 2019, Boeing has unexpected issues. Because of the issues, it did not successfully reach the International Space Station as expected. Both the companies—ISS and NASA were determined on finding a ‘why’ to that and decided to give the mission one more try in 2021.
Starliner crew test flight:
Boeing plans to send up three astronauts to the International Space Station not later than June 2021, after assuming Starliner passes its uncrewed flight test successfully.
Japanese rover rides ULA’s 1st Vulcan rocket:
Yaoki—Japan’s first moon rover, will launch the rookie mission for United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket in 2021. The new booster is powered by ULA’s long-running Atlas line. On a mission sponsored by NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, Yaoki will fly to the moon. Yaoki will be accompanied by the Pittsburgh-based company Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander. If the mission is successful, the cremated remains of noted science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke will be deposited.
The debut of Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket:
Blue Origin will send its first orbital rocket aloft in 2021. New Glenn—named after the NASA Mercury astronaut John Glenn, the rocket can send up to 14 tons (13 metric tons) to geostationary orbit and 50 tons (45 metric tons) to low Earth orbit. This rocket will be added to NASA’s fleet of commercial launch vehicles.