In the early hours of Monday, October 9 at 12:23 a.m. PT, SpaceX successfully launched 21 Starlink V2 Mini satellites to low-Earth orbit (LEO). The mission, which took place at Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, marked SpaceX's 71st mission of the year, bringing the company closer to its ambitious goal of completing 100 orbital missions in 2023.
SpaceX, founded by visionary entrepreneur Elon Musk, has been steadily increasing its launch cadence. Musk recently announced plans to launch 10 missions a month by the end of the year, and this latest mission indicates that the company is on track to achieve that target.
The first stage booster supporting this mission, identified as B1063-14, continued its impressive track record with its 14th flight. It had previously played a crucial role in important missions, including: NASA's Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, NASA DART, SpaceX's Transporter-7 rideshare launch, Iridium OneWeb satellites, U.S. Space Development Agency SDA-0B, and now nine Starlink missions.
Approximately eight minutes after liftoff, the booster executed a precise propulsive landing on the 'Of Course I Still Love You' droneship stationed in the Pacific Ocean. This successful landing further solidified SpaceX's reputation for reusability, with Falcon 9 first-stage boosters having been landed 232 times and recovered boosters reused 204 times.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship pic.twitter.com/mrd8jxdWSK— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 9, 2023
The 21 Starlink V2 Mini satellites deployed during this mission are part of Group 7-4 and are expected to operate at an altitude of around 530 kilometers in a circular low-Earth orbit (LEO) at 53° degrees to Earth's equator. These advanced satellites are designed to provide four times the bandwidth of their predecessors, further enhancing SpaceX's position in the internet service provider industry.
This launch marked the 25th deployment of V2 Mini satellites within the Starlink constellation. To date, SpaceX has launched a total of 5,243 Starlink satellites into orbit since 2019, with approximately 4,884 of them still operational. The rapid expansion of SpaceX's Starlink broadband satellite network has allowed it to serve over 2 million subscribers in more than 60 countries, providing high-speed internet access to previously underserved areas. SpaceX's continued success in deploying innovative satellite technology and achieving cost-effective rocket reusability reaffirms its leadership in the space industry and its commitment to connecting the world through advanced satellite internet services.
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Featured Image Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.