June 21, 2024
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SpaceX launches 20 Starlink satellites on Falcon 9 flight from Vandenberg Space Force Base – Spaceflight Now

A stack of SpaceX Starlink satellites, including the first six with Direct to Cell capabilities. The batch was launched on the Starlink 7-9 mission, which lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base on January 2, 2024. Image: SpaceX

SpaceX kicked off the weekend with the launch of another batch of its Starlink satellites. The mission, called Starlink 8-8, added 20 more satellites to the low-Earth orbit constellation, including 13 that have Direct to Cell capabilities.

Liftoff from Vandenberg Space Force Base occurred at 5:58 a.m. PDT (8:58 a.m. EDT, 1258 UTC). The launch came less than 12 hours after SpaceX launched 22 Starlink satellites from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and about 48 hours after launching the fourth flight of its Starship rocket from south Texas.

The Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission, tail number B1061 in SpaceX's fleet, launched for the 21st time, tying B1062 for the company's flight lead. B1061 previously launched two astronaut quartets (Crew-1 and Crew-2), two multi-satellite rideshare missions (Transporter-4 and Transporter-5), as well as nine previous Starlink missions.

Just over minutes after takeoff, B1061 landed on the SpaceX spacecraft, 'Of Course I Still Love You.' She marked the 92nd landing at OCISLY and the 318th booster landing to date.

On June 1, Michael Nicolls, vice president of Starlink Engineering at SpaceX, noted that Starlink's 11 launches in May included 26 Direct to Cell Starlink satellites that delivered “more than 8 percent of the satellites needed for initial direct-to-cell service.” cell”.

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