Monday, July 22

SpaceX to launch 23 Starlink satellites on Falcon 9 flight from Cape Canaveral – Spaceflight Now

A Falcon 9 stands ready for a Starlink mission at Cape Canaveral’s pad 40. File photo: Adam Bernstein/Spaceflight Now.

SpaceX is kicking off the morning of Memorial Day with a Falcon 9 flight about an hour after sunrise. The Starlink 6-60 mission will add another 23 spacecraft to the company’s growing mega-constellation of internet relay satellites, serving more than three million customers.

The Falcon 9 rocket is set to liftoff from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 UTC). If needed there are multiple backup opportunities through 11:30 a.m. EDT (1530 UTC).

Spaceflight Now will have live coverage beginning about an hour prior to liftoff.

The Falcon 9 first stage booster, tail number B1078 in the SpaceX fleet, will be launching for a 10th time. Its previous launches included the Crew-6 astronaut mission to the International Space Station; USSF-124, the second SpaceX mission under the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Phase 2 contract; and six Starlink missions.

A little more than eight minutes after liftoff, B1078 is set to touch down on the SpaceX droneship, ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas.’ If successful, it will be the 72nd booster landing for ASOG and the 313th booster landing for SpaceX to date.

The mission will also be SpaceX’s 55th Falcon 9 launch of the year, which will bring the company up to a launch rate of a Falcon flight every 2.7 days on average. At this pace, they would launch 135 times by the end of the year, approaching the 144 launch goal laid out by Bill Gerstenmaier during his testimony in front of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee in October 2023.

However, the pace has been picking up as the year goes on as evidenced by the number of launches per month:

  • January – 10
  • February – 9
  • March – 12
  • April – 12
  • May – 11 (as of May 23)

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Kiko Dontchev, the vice president of Launch for SpaceX, stated that they have the potential to hit 14 launches before the close of May.

The day after the Starlink 6-60 mission is set to launch, SpaceX is poised to launch the European Space Agency’s Earth Cloud Aerosol and Radiation Explorer (EarthCARE) satellite to a sun-synchronous polar orbit. A 14th Falcon 9 launch would more than likely be another Starlink flight from Florida.