On a clear night and under a bright Moon, SpaceX launched the Falcon 9 to successfully deliver 56 version 1.5 Starlink satellites to orbit. The launch from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station occurred on time at 3:31 AM ET.
Following lift-off, the Falcon 9 pitched down range to head on a South East trajectory necessary for the Group 5-6 batch of Starlinks. The first stage launching this group is B1069, now having completed 7 flights. Following a 2-minute and 30-second burn of the 9 Merlin 1D engines, the first and second stages separated. Just 4 minutes later, the first stage initiated its entry burn to slow down and protect itself to come back through the atmosphere and visible from the Space Coast despite being hundreds of miles down range.
Meanwhile, the 2nd stage continued its way to a parking orbit.
Just 8 minutes and 24 seconds after launch, B1069 successfully landed on the drone ship ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas,’ which will be brought back to Port Canaveral in a few days to begin refurbishment for its 8th flight. After a coast in its initial parking orbit, the second stage performed a quick burn, shut down, and then deployed the 56 Starlink satellites into their orbits just over an hour after the launch. SpaceX has now delivered more than 4,300 satellites to orbit, of which more than 3,400 are active.
Deployment of 56 Starlink satellites confirmed
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 4, 2023
With this launch, SpaceX is setting up for a busy month, with a potential of at least 5 Starlink launches and a couple of commercial payloads between the Florida and California launch sites. Currently, next up is another launch from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, and you guessed it, more Starlink satellites will be heading to orbit.