The Falcon 9 rocket soars through the sky, sending 23 Starlink V2 Mini satellites into low Earth orbit. It was the 18th launch and landing of the booster, tail number 1058. Image: Michael Cain SpaceX broke another flight record Friday night, launching 23 more Starlink satellites on the Falcon 9 booster on its 18th flight.
The Starlink 6-26 mission launched from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 8:37 p.m. EDT (November 4 at 0037 UTC). It sent 23 Starlink V2 Mini satellites into low Earth orbit, bringing the total to 2023. the number of Starlink satellites launched will increase to 1,711.
The booster for this mission, tail number B1058, is the oldest Falcon 9 booster currently flying. It flew for the first time in 2020. on May 30, launching former NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station on the Demo-2 mission. It was the first flight of a commercial crew program with astronauts. Since then, SpaceX has flown seven crewed rotation missions to the orbital outpost, in addition to two private astronaut missions.
After liftoff, the booster landed on the Gravitas Lack drone ship about eight and a half minutes later.
The Falcon 9 rocket that will launch the Demo-2 mission is emblazoned with NASA’s “worm” logo, which was retired from official use in 1992. Credits: SpaceX As SpaceX continues to work to add Dragon capabilities to SLC-40 with a new crew access tower, Friday night’s mission will be the company’s 152nd orbital launch since it began using the launch pad. This will be the 207th total launch from this site.
While SpaceX launched its 52nd Starlink launch this year, it is also pursuing another mission at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. On Thursday, NASA announced another two-day slide to launch. This is the third time the mission has been delayed due to a problem with one of the Cargo Dragon’s flying Draco propellers. The launch was previously scheduled for November 3, 5 and 7.
“During the initial propellant load in preparation for the CRS-29 mission, the teams encountered a leak of NTO (nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer) in the Draco thrust valve, which required a standard procedure to halt the operation to fix the problem,” NASA said in a statement. statement. “The team checked the valve and the relevant data and decided to change the actuation.
SpaceX’s 29th mission for the Commercial Resupply Services program is currently scheduled for November 9. 8:28 p.m. EST (November 10 at 0128 UTC).
Mission patch of the SpaceX CRS-29 mission to the International Space Station. Image: SpaceX