June 21, 2024
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SpaceX launches 22 Starlink satellites on Falcon 9 flight from Cape Canaveral – Spaceflight Now

A Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on June 7, 2024. The mission, Starlink 10-1, was the first to send Starlink satellites to this layer of the mega constellation. Image: Space Flight Now

Update 8:57 pm EDT: SpaceX adjusted the T-0 takeoff time.

SpaceX continued its fourth test flight of its enormous starship rocket in south Texas with the launch of the Falcon 9 from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Friday night's flight marked the 344th launch of the Falcon 9, just over 14 years after its debut launch on June 4, 2010.

The Starlink 10-1 mission added another 22 satellites to the massive constellation consisting of more than 6,000 active satellites in low Earth orbit, according to expert astronomer and orbital tracker Jonathan McDowell. Takeoff from pad 40 occurred at 9:56 pm EDT (0156 UTC).

The first stage booster supporting this mission, SpaceX fleet tail number B1069, was launched for the 16th time. It previously supported the launch of SpaceX's 24th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station (CRS-24), Eutelsat's Hotbed 18F satellite, and 11 previous batches of Starlink satellites.

Approximately 8.5 minutes after liftoff, B1069 will land on the SpaceX booster, “A Shortfall of Gravitas.” This was the 74th booster landing at ASOG and the 317th booster landing to date. Leaving aside the Falcon Heavy side booster landings, this was also the landing of the 301st booster on a Falcon 9 rocket.

The mission comes about a day and a half after the company made notable progress with its Starship program. Flight 4 was not only an opportunity to further validate the technology inside the rocket, but also SpaceX's Starlink network.

“Starlink on Starship once again enabled real-time telemetry and live high-definition video during each entry phase, with external cameras providing views until the conclusion of the flight,” SpaceX wrote on its website after the mission.

During the ascent and coast phase of Ship 29's upper stage, SpaceX advertised the views with a watermark that read “Viewed by Starlink.” It allowed spectators to witness the rocket pass through the maximum heating point as the reddish-pink plasma highlighting the reentry grew to a deep purple.

It also allowed for continuous views of Starship's front flap, which nearly broke but persevered to allow a controlled landing, as well as an avalanche of social media memes ranging from “Terminator 2” to “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.” ”

“From South Texas to the other side of the Earth, Starship is in the water. Wow, what a day,” SpaceX's Dan Huot said during the company's livestream of the launch. “That was absolutely incredible. We got views practically the entire descent. The analysis said we could do it, but not if it was going to happen. But Starlink turned on and we were able to get that signal.”

“We started getting some debris on the cameras and everything, but we were able to see it.”

Starlink will receive another key technology demonstration later this summer when the four-member crew of the Polaris Dawn mission, commanded by entrepreneur Jared Isaacman, conducts an in-orbit communications test.

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