Updated at 9:05 PM EST (2222 UTC): Launch at 8:39 PM EDT (0039 UTC).
SpaceX followed up its double launch day on Friday, October 13, with a Falcon 9 rocket launch in the evening, sending 22 more Starlink V2 Mini satellites into low Earth orbit.
The evening mission lifted off Tuesday from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 8:39 p.m. EDT (0039 UTC on October 18).
The Starlink Group 6-23 mission came just 4 days, 1 hour and 38 minutes after the last SLC-40 mission, Starlink Group 6-22, which lifted off on Friday evening at 7:01 PM EDT (2301 UTC). . .
With a successful launch on Tuesday evening, SpaceX completed its 74th launch of 2023. In other words, this means it is launching on average approximately once every 3.92 days. The company also said in a weekend post on social media site X that after Friday’s Starlink launch, SpaceX has sent more than 900 metric tons into orbit this year.
The booster rocket launching this mission, B1062, has made its 16th flight, including launches of the civilian astronaut mission Inspiration4, the private astronaut mission Ax-1 and two Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites. About 8.5 minutes after launch, she landed the drone. “Just read the instructions.”
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 15, 2023
This latest launch brings SpaceX one step closer to having 5,000 satellites in orbit. according to Data Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist and expert on spaceflight activity, has compiled 5,265 Starlink satellites launched into low Earth orbit as of October 13, of which 4,905 are still in orbit and 4,874 are currently operational.
There are currently 467 Starlink satellites launched into the current Group 6 envelope of the constellation, of which 448 are listed as “operational.”
All of this comes as SpaceX heads toward the second integrated flight test of its Starship rocket from its Starbase launch and test site in south Texas. The company has reassembled the upper stage, dubbed Ship 25, on Booster 9 ahead of a planned exercise at a yet-to-be-announced date.
The FAA has not yet issued a launch authorization for the IFT-2 mission. SpaceX will use Starship to launch its Starlink Version 2 satellites, though in a fireside chat at a recent conference, founder Elon Musk referred to the Version 3 satellites, so it’s unclear if the company is renaming the type of satellites Starship will launch.
“I think there’s a good chance we’ll start deploying Starlink V3 satellites next year, roughly a year from now,” Musk said during his October 5 remarks.
The spacecraft is fully stacked as the team prepares for launch rehearsal. We continue to work with the FAA on launch authorization pic.twitter.com/1uJdDmCouI
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 16, 2023
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