June 15, 2024

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SpaceX launches 20 Starlink satellites on the 14th anniversary of the launch of the first Falcon 9 – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX launches 20 Starlink satellites on the 14th anniversary of the launch of the first Falcon 9 – Spaceflight Now
A Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on the Starlink 8-5 mission on June 4, 2024. The mission coincided with the 14th anniversary of the launch of the first Falcon 9 in 2010. Image: Spaceflight Now

SpaceX launched its Falcon 9 rocket on Tuesday evening, 14 years to the day after the rocket was first launched from the same pad. Since that day, SpaceX has launched more than 340 Falcon 9 rockets, 285 of which were using previously launched boosters.

The Starlink 8-5 mission lifted off from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 10:16 p.m. EDT (0216 UTC).

The Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage booster, tail number B1067 in the SpaceX fleet, has been launched for the 20th time. It has previously supported the flights of two Crew Dragon astronaut missions, two Cargo Dragon resupply missions to the International Space Station and 10 previous Starlink deliveries.

About 8.5 minutes after liftoff, B1067 touched down on SpaceX’s “just read the instructions” drone. This was the 83rd landing using JRTI and the 316th booster landing to date.

The Falcon 9 flight had 20 Starlink V2 Mini satellites on board, including 13 with direct-to-mobile communications capabilities.

In a post on his social media platform For Starlink internet in the US I will get less than 20 milliseconds.”

The update on the network’s reported capabilities came a day after Michael Nichols, SpaceX’s vice president of Starlink Engineering, shared a post summarizing the impact of 11 Starlink launches SpaceX conducted in May.

He noted that Starlink’s 26 direct mobile satellites represent more than eight percent of what they need for primary mobile service with partner T-Mobile. This indicates that SpaceX needs about 325 Starlink satellites to achieve this goal.

Spacecraft flight 4

The launch comes on the same day that the Federal Aviation Administration approved the launch license amendment Which allows SpaceX to proceed with Flight 4 of its Starship rocket. The agency noted that SpaceX “met all safety and other licensing requirements for this test flight.”

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The FAA also included language in its statement suggesting that SpaceX may not have to wait long if things meet certain standards set by SpaceX.

“As part of the license modification request, SpaceX proposed three scenarios involving spacecraft entry that would not require an investigation in the event of a loss of spacecraft,” the FAA said in a statement. “The FAA approved the scenarios as test damage exceptions after evaluating them as part of aviation safety and aviation risk analyzes and ensuring they met general safety requirements.”

“If a different anomaly occurred on the Starship vehicle, an investigation may be warranted, as would an anomaly on the Super Heavy booster rocket.”

The FAA also allowed SpaceX to conduct controlled or uncontrolled reentry of the spacecraft. However, it determined that SpaceX would need to give the FAA warning before launch if it chose the second option.

SpaceX dismantled Ship 29 from Booster 11 on Tuesday, June 4, doing some final work ahead of Thursday’s planned launch of Expedition 4, the fourth test launch of the nearly 400-foot-tall rocket. Image: Michael Caine/Space Flight Now