On Friday, September 15, SpaceX launched another fleet of Starlink V2 ‘Mini’ satellites as it pursues to double its annual missions. This mission marked the 65th of 2023. The company aims to launch a total of 100 missions this year which is nearly double what it launched last year at 61 missions. SpaceX founder Elon Musk recently shared that they aim to perform 10 missions per month to achieve completing the ambitious launch manifest.
The company is launching an average of every three to four days. SpaceX is aiming to achieve this ambitious goal by using its reusable Falcon 9 rockets, as well as by increasing the production rate of its Starlink satellites. If SpaceX is successful in completing 100 missions in 2023, it would be a major milestone for the company and would further solidify its position as the leading commercial space launch provider. The Starlink Group 6-16 mission lifted off at 11:38 p.m. ET, Falcon 9 launched 22 Starlink V2 Mini satellites to low-Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/PYY2OHIazz— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 16, 2023
This was the fifth flight for the Falcon 9 first-stage booster supporting this mission, identified as B1078-5, which previously launched: NASA Crew-6 astronauts, SES O3b mPOWER, and now three Starlink missions. Approximately 8-minutes after liftoff, the booster returned from space to land on the ‘Just Read The Instructions’ autonomous spaceport droneship which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. As of today, SpaceX has performed a total of 264 launches, landed 226 orbital-class rockets, and reused recovered boosters in its Falcon 9 Block 5 fleet 198 times. Such level of rocket reusability is unprecedented in the space industry, SpaceX is a leader in aerospace innovation.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean pic.twitter.com/7fr7n7R62W— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 16, 2023
The Starlink satellites were released by Falcon 9’s upper-stage into Low Earth Orbit at around 50-minutes after liftoff. These V2 Mini satellites are the 19th fleet of second-generation satellites to be deployed to orbit. This version of satellites are equipped with more powerful phased array antennas and utilizing E-band for backhaul, each satellite can deliver approximately four times more capacity than their V1 and V1.5 predecessors. SpaceX has launched a total of 5,113 Starlink satellites of which approximately 4,765 remain in orbit, according to data compiled by Astronomer Jonathan McDowell.
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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.