SpaceX booster B1069 successfully launches Group 6-9 Starlink mission

Booster 1069 launches Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit (Credit Richard Angle)

SpaceX successfully sent 22 more V2 mini Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida very early this morning.

Following a few weather delays, the Falcon 9 launched at 1:17 a.m. ET (05:17 UTC), heading to the Southeast to insert the Starlink satellites into the proper 43-degree orbital inclination.

The 22 satellites separated from the 2nd stage just over 1 hour after launching from Florida and bringing the total number of Starlink satellites to 4,940. There are just over 4,500 Starlink satellites that are working, with 3,854 being in their operational orbits, according to the Jonathan McDowells Starlink tracker.

This was 4th mission for SpaceX in the last 8 days and the 55th mission of the year. There are 4 more missions currently scheduled between the Eastern and Western ranges for August with a good chance of more being added. SpaceX is essentially only using 2 out of its 3 launch pads for Starlink and customer launches as Launch Complex 39A is being readied for the Crew 7 launch that is currently scheduled for August 25th.

In a fun “coincidence,” the Falcon 9 that launched the Group 6-9 mission was Booster 1069, which was flying on its 9th flight. B1069 successfully landed on the droneship “Just Read the Instructions” 8 and a half minutes after launch.

B1069 has had one of the more interesting histories of the current fleet of Falcon 9 boosters, following its first flight in which it performed nominally. After landing, there was some sort of mishap on the droneship, possibly due to rough seas. The first stage slid around the deck and the Octograbber underneath caused damage to the booster’s Merlin 1D engine nozzles.

The rocket was eventually secured and brought back with a heavy lean. SpaceX repaired the booster and has now completed 9 flights, including 5 Starlink missions, 3 commercial missions, and an ISS resupply mission.

B1069 returning to Port Canaveral after its first flight (Credit Richard Angle)

Another SpaceX record was broken with this launch, the fairings on this mission were flying for their 10th and 11th times. This is the first time a fairing half had flown for 11 times.

SpaceX will now take a “break” of sorts, with the next launch currently being scheduled no earlier than August 16 from SLC-40 in Florida.

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SpaceX booster B1069 successfully launches Group 6-9 Starlink mission
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