February 26, 2024

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SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches from Cape Canaveral carrying 23 Starlink satellites – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches from Cape Canaveral carrying 23 Starlink satellites – Spaceflight Now
Launching the Falcon 9 rocket carrying 23 Starlink satellites. Image: Michael Caine/Space Flight Now.

SpaceX launched its third batch of Starlink satellites in just over four days, with a Falcon 9 rocket blasting off from Cape Canaveral at 2:47 a.m. EDT (0747 UTC) on Wednesday morning.

The Starlink 6-29 mission was originally scheduled to launch at 11:01 PM EDT (0401 UTC) Tuesday evening, but SpaceX delayed the launch twice. This was the third batch of Starlink satellites to reach orbit in recent days. Just after midnight Saturday, 23 satellites lifted off from Cape Canaveral. This was followed by the launch of 22 more Starlink vehicles from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Monday morning. Wednesday morning’s launch carried 23 additional satellites.

A Falcon 9 rocket was lifted upright at Space Launch Complex 40 shortly before 10 p.m. EDT (0300 UTC), much later than usual. The previous mission from Pad 40 had launched just four days earlier, making it the ninth fastest launch facility turnaround attempt.

A Falcon 9 rocket is lifted upright at Space Launch Complex 40 as SpaceX moves forward with its plans for a Starlink delivery mission. Image: Adam Bernstein/Space Flight Now.

With its nine Merlin 1D engines ignited, the Falcon 9 rocket blasted off on a southeast trajectory, aiming for an orbit inclined 43 degrees to the equator. After burning Merlin 1D’s nine engines for about two and a half minutes, the first stage separated from the second stage and continued to land on the drone ship “A Shortfall of Gravitas” in the Atlantic Ocean, about 424 miles (682 km) away. From the launch site.

A file photo of SpaceX’s Starlink V2 Mini satellites inside the payload processing facility at Cape Canaveral earlier this year. Credit: SpaceX

Meanwhile, above, the second stage’s single Merlin vacuum engine continued firing for about six minutes to reach stall orbit. After cruising for approximately 45 minutes, the second stage engine will be reignited for 2 seconds to optimize the orbit. The 23 V2 Mini Starlink satellites will be deployed approximately one hour and five minutes after launch.

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This was SpaceX’s 87th orbital launch of the year and the 276th flight of a Falcon 9 rocket to date.