SpaceX bookends Starship launch with two Starlink missions

Falcon 9 launches Starlink satellites from Florida (Credit SpaceX)

While Starship garnered all the attention this weekend on its 2nd integrated flight test, SpaceX also launched 2 Starlink missions from Florida and California.

Florida was up first. Just hours before the Starship launch, SpaceX launched 23 Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Base at 12:05 AM ET (05:05 UTC) on November 18th.

The 23 Starlink satellites were inserted into a 43-degree orbital inclination as part of Group 6-28. The satellites were deployed just over an hour after liftoff.

The Falcon 9 assigned to launch Group 6-28 was Booster 1069. B1069 completed its 11th flight since debuting on the CRS-24 mission in December of 2021, when it suffered a run-in with bad weather, and the engines crunched down onto the octagrabber. The booster was eventually refurbished and is now a veteran of the SpaceX fleet.

This mission utilized the droneship ‘Just Read the Instructions’ for the booster landing. SpaceX also recovered both fairing halves to be reused on a future mission.

Jumping over to the West Coast, SpaceX launched 22 Starlink satellites from Vandenberg Space Force Base this morning at 2:30 AM PT (10:30 UTC).

The 22 satellites were inserted into a 53-degree orbital inclination as part of Group 7-7. Satellite deployment came just over an hour after launching.

As for the booster for this mission, Booster 1063 completed its 15th flight, making it five boosters with at least 15 flights. After separating from the 2nd stage, B1063 made a successful landing on the droneship ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ off the coast of the Baja Peninsula.

With these two launches, SpaceX has now launched over 5,445 Starlink satellites to orbit, with 4,500 now being in their operational orbits according to Jonathan McDowell’s Starlink tracker. These 45 new Starlinks will begin their checkouts and orbit raising over the next couple of months as the constellation keeps growing.

While it took 2 Falcon 9 launches to launch 45, once Starship comes online, it could launch double that in one mission depending on which variant of Starlink satellite is used.

Next up for SpaceX, another Starlink mission from SLC 40 in Florida, currently scheduled for no earlier than Tuesday, November 21st at 11 PM ET (04:00 UTC on the 22nd).

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SpaceX bookends Starship launch with two Starlink missions
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