March 4, 2024

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SpaceX launches a Falcon 9 rocket from California carrying 22 Starlink satellites – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX launches a Falcon 9 rocket from California carrying 22 Starlink satellites – Spaceflight Now
File photo of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. Credit: SpaceX

A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from the West Coast with another group of satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink network at 12:03 a.m. PT on Friday (3:03 a.m. EDT/0803 UTC).

The Starlink 7-8 mission began from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California and lifted off in a southeasterly direction, aiming for an orbit 183 by 178 miles (295 by 286 km) long, inclined at a 53 degree angle to the equator. SpaceX’s webcast had technical difficulties and did not show the launch. This was SpaceX’s fastest West Coast launch pad turnaround with six days, 13 hours, 43 minutes and 57 seconds since the last launch from SLC-4E, beating the previous record set on October 29, 2023, by about 36 hours.

The first stage booster, on its 13th flight, previously launched missions NROL-87, NROL-85, SARAH-1, SWOT, Transporter-8 and Transporter-9. In addition to six previous Starlink delivery missions. After completing its burn, the first stage landed aboard the “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship stationed about 400 miles (644 km) in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California.

SpaceX confirmed that deployment of the 22 Starlink satellites will take place just over an hour after launch in a social media post. This was the 40th launch of the V2 Mini Starlink model range since its introduction earlier this year. This new version is much larger than the previous V1.5 satellites and is equipped with upgraded antennas and larger solar panels, and is capable of providing four times greater bandwidth.

SpaceX recently announced earlier this year that it had signed up more than 2 million subscribers in more than 60 countries for its Starlink internet service. Before the Starlink 7-8 mission on Friday, it had launched 5,559 satellites, according to statistics compiled by Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, which maintains… Spaceflight database. Of those satellites, 5,186 satellites are still in orbit, and 5,147 satellites appear to be operating normally.

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