In the early hours of Saturday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket soared into the California sky, carrying 21 Starlink V2 Mini satellites. The launch took place at 1:23 a.m. PDT from Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Space Force Base. This mission marked SpaceX's 22nd launch from the West Coast in 2023 and its 75th orbital launch overall for the year.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/Nz14t3zfW7— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 21, 2023
The sixteen-times-flown booster for this mission previously played a role in several significant missions, including: NASA Crew-1, Crew-2, SXM-8, CRS-23, IXPE, Transporter-4, Transporter-5, Globalstar FM15, ISI EROS C-3 missions, and six Starlink delivery flights. After a successful launch, the booster B1061-16 landed on the ‘Of Course I still Love You’ droneship, positioned approximately 644 kilometers offshore in the Pacific Ocean, near Baja California.
With this launch, SpaceX achieved several remarkable milestones. As of today, the space company has executed a total of 274 missions and impressively landed 237 orbital-class rockets. Even more remarkable, they've reused recovered boosters 209 times, emphasizing their commitment to cost-effective and sustainable space exploration.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship pic.twitter.com/ZyStp4b1or— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 21, 2023
The deployment of 21 Starlink V2 Mini satellites occured around an hour after liftoff. SpaceX shared an amazing video of the satellites being released to orbit, linked below. These new V2 Mini satellites, compared to their V1.5 predecessors, are substantially larger, equipped with enhanced antennas and larger solar panels. This advanced design allows them to deliver four times the bandwidth of the previous generation, promising better and more reliable internet coverage. This mission marked the 28th launch of the V2 Mini satellites, which were first introduced in February this year. The improved capabilities of these satellites underscore SpaceX's dedication to enhancing global internet connectivity through the Starlink project. To date, SpaceX has launched a staggering total of 5,331 Starlink satellites into orbit since 2019, with roughly 4,968 of them still operational, according to data compiled by astronomer Jonathan McDowell.
A second Falcon 9 was scheduled to take flight on the same day from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. This mission, scheduled for 10:17 p.m. EDT, is set to carry a record-breaking 23 Starlink V2 Mini satellites, making it the largest number to be deployed on a single mission. Saturday's back-to-back launches demonstrates SpaceX's ambitious efforts to expand its Starlink satellite constellation and provide high-speed internet services worldwide.
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Featured Images 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.