February 22, 2024

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SpaceX sends 23 Starlink satellites into orbit when 90th Falcon launches in 2023 – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX sends 23 Starlink satellites into orbit when 90th Falcon launches in 2023 – Spaceflight Now

A Falcon 9 rocket stands on the pad at Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The rocket supports the Starlink 6-33 mission for SpaceX. Photo: Adam Bernstein

Update 12:20 a.m. EDT: SpaceX has successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket and landed the booster on the drone.

SpaceX has achieved another milestone with the launch of its Starlink mission overnight. The flight from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station marks the company’s 90th orbital launch in 2023 and the 280th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket to date. The Starlink 6-33 mission was launched at 12:07 PM EDT (0507 UTC) from Space Launch Complex 40.

The weather for the mission was perfect at liftoff, but meteorologists also monitored the image. Take-off winds were the only observation item in the forecast that predicted 95 percent favorable weather.

“A secondary boost of cold air will flow into the area [on Wednesday]The launch forecast stated clear skies and a stronger pressure gradient over the Space Coast. “This will result in gusty surface winds through tomorrow evening which will slowly diminish during the launch window, so lift-off winds remain the only concern.”

The forecast also indicated that upper level wind shear was considered “low to moderate” and was highlighted under the Additional Risk Criteria section.

The Starlink 6-33 mission marks the fourth-fastest turnaround for SpaceX’s launch pad, SLC-40, at four days, one hour, six minutes and 40 seconds since the last launch from here. This mission will be SpaceX’s 159th orbital launch from this pad.

The first stage booster used for the launch was tail number 1077, which was launched on its ninth flight on this mission. Notable previous launches include Crew-5 and GPS 3 Space Vehicle 06.

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The “just read instructions” drone landed about eight and a half minutes after takeoff. With 23 satellites on board, the total number of satellites launched in 2023 will reach 1,871.

A graph from analytics firm BryceTech, showing how much spacecraft mass was sent into orbit during the third quarter of 2023.

In a repost of a chart from analytics firm BryceTech, SpaceX founder Elon Musk stated that the company “seeks to launch more than 80 percent of Earth’s total payload into orbit this year.” The Q3 report notes that of the 63 orbital launches around the world, SpaceX was responsible for 26 of them.

Breaking it down further, SpaceX has launched far more into space than the rest of the world combined. It launched 519 spacecraft during the third quarter compared to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the next closest, which launched 24 spacecraft.

The statistic Musk quoted from BryceTech was one he often liked to keep in mind: the mass of the spacecraft in orbit. This chart shows in the third quarter, SpaceX launched 381,278 kg into orbit, followed by CASC with 24,560 kg and Roscosmos with 17,475 kg.

Meanwhile, at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, teams continue to work toward what will likely be the final launch from that pad in 2023. The Falcon Heavy supporting the USSF-52 mission returned to the adjacent hangar Tuesday evening. In anticipation of the integration of the X-37B spaceplane onto the rocket.

The ninth Falcon Heavy rocket launch continues so far on December 10.

The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket supporting the USSF-52 mission has returned to the hangar at Launch Complex 39A for payload integration. The X-37B launch mission is targeting a December 10 liftoff. Image: Spaceflight Now