SpaceX continues its march to 100 launches in a year

Late Saturday night, a Falcon 9 lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station with another 23 Starlink satellites delivered into orbit.

Launch occurred at 11:00 pm ET (04:00 UTC), continuing the build-out of the Group 6 Starlink shell with this mission being Group 6-31.

The 23 V2 mini Starlinks were inserted into a 43-degree orbital inclination, the same as the previous group 6 missions. The satellites separated from the 2nd stage just over an hour after the launch.

This was the 89th orbital mission of the year for SpaceX as they look to stay on track to reach 100 launches in a year, and with a majority of launches coming from SLC-40, the average pad turnaround time between launches has been just under 5 days as SpaceX teams maximize the capabilities to enable a rapid back to back launch cadence.

Looking ahead at the rest of the month, there are currently five more launches for SpaceX scheduled out for December 14th, including a Falcon Heavy from LC-39A. After December 14th, there could be a chance of at least eight more launches if schedules can hold, however, these are not set in stone, and various delays from weather to technical issues could arise, and a few could slip into the new year.

Back to this weekend’s launch, the Falcon 9 tasked with this mission was Booster 1078, which flew for its 6th time. B1078 took a bit longer, with its 6th flight having last flown 78 days prior. The average turnaround time for boosters has been hovering around 45 days with a few exceptions like Falcon Heavy side cores or Falcons assigned to Crew missions.

B1078 made a successful landing on the droneship “A Shortfall of Gravitas” about eight and a half minutes after launch, and as usual, SpaceX will attempt to recover the payload fairings for use on another mission.

Coming up next for SpaceX are two Starlink launches, one from Florida no earlier than December 6th and one from California no earlier than December 8th, followed by the Falcon Heavy launch currently scheduled for December 10th after a slight delay.

Questions or comments? Shoot me an email at, or Tweet me @RDAnglePhoto.

Richard Angle: Launch journalist, specializing in launch photography. Based on the Space Coast, a short drive from Cape Canaveral and the SpaceX launch pads.
Related Post
Disqus Comments Loading...