July 17, 2024
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Space

SpaceX launches 350th Falcon 9 rocket on Starlink flight from Cape Canaveral – Spaceflight Now

The 350th Falcon 9 rocket launches on June 27, 2024 on the Starlink 10-3 mission. Image: Adam Bernstein/Spaceflight Now

Update 8:00 am EDT: SpaceX launched the Starlink 10-3 mission.

SpaceX is setting two key records with the launch of its latest batch of Starlink satellites from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The Starlink 10-3 mission was the 350th launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket.

The first stage booster supporting this mission, tail number B1062 in the SpaceX fleet, also launched for the 22nd time, making it the flight leader among the Falcon fleet. Mission liftoff occurred at 7:14 am EDT (1114 UTC).

Among its 21 previous launches, B1062 launched two GPS satellites, two astronaut crews (Inspiration4 and Ax-1), and 14 Starlink missions.

Just over eight minutes after liftoff, B1062 will land on the SpaceX spacecraft, 'Just read the instructions.' If successful, this will be the 85th landing at JRTI and the 325th booster landing to date.

The launch of 23 more Starlink satellites comes just two days after SpaceX launched the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) weather satellite GOES-U. The mission was launched with the company's tenth Falcon Heavy rocket.

SpaceX launches the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) GOES-U weather satellite on the company's 10th Falcon Heavy rocket. Image: Adam Bernstein/Spaceflight Now

It was also just announced that SpaceX will receive a contract valued at up to $843 million to “develop and deliver the US deorbit vehicle that will provide the capability to deorbit the space station and ensure risks are avoided in populated areas.”

“The selection of a U.S. deorbit vehicle for the International Space Station will help NASA and its international partners ensure a safe and responsible transition to low-Earth orbit at the end of station operations. “This decision also supports NASA’s plans for future commercial destinations and enables the continued use of space near Earth,” Ken Bowersox, associate administrator of the Space Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, said in a statement. “The orbital laboratory continues to be a model for science, exploration and partnerships in space for the benefit of all.”

The orbiting outpost has an expected operational end-of-life date of 2030, as new commercial space stations come online. NASA stated that the launch contract for this mission will be awarded at a later date.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on the Starlink 10-3 mission on June 27, 2024. Image: Michael Cain/Spaceflight Now

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