SpaceX launches 52 Starlink satellites from early morning Falcon 9 launch

Falcon 9 ascends through the skies on the way to another successful Starlink mission (Credit Richard Angle)

Lifting off at 3:10 AM ET (07:10 UTC), the Falcon 9 ascended from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station with 52 Version 1.5 Starlink satellites.

This batch of Starlink satellites launched on a South East trajectory and were inserted into a 43 degree orbital inclination. After separating from the second stage, the satellites will now undergo on orbit checkouts while they are moved into their final orbit.

SpaceX has now launched orbital missions 39 times this year, with 37 of those launches being a Falcon 9. The Falcon 9 supporting the Starlink Group 5-11 mission is B1073.

B1073 has launched 5 Starlink missions and 4 customer payloads. The first stage successfully landed on the droneship ‘Just Read the Instructions’ about eight-and-a-half minutes after launch. This booster will now be brought back to Port Canaveral and transferred to Hangar X, where it will be converted to a Falcon Heavy side core ahead of its next launch, Echostar-24, currently scheduled no earlier than September 2023.

The launch of Starlink Group 5-11 now brings the total number of Starlink satellites launched to nearly 4,600, of which there are just under 3,600 in operational orbits.

The big difference in launched versus operational is due to SpaceX having safely de-orbiting failed satellites after checkouts so they don’t become space junk and that the most recent Starlink satellites that have launched have not quite reached their operational orbits.

Coming up next for SpaceX is the Transporter 8 mission that is due to launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base this afternoon at 2:19 PM PT (21:19 UTC) and will carry 72 customer payloads to orbit, following launch the first stage will land back at Landing Zone 4.

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SpaceX launches 52 Starlink satellites from early morning Falcon 9 launch
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