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June 24, 2024

SpaceX Falcon 9 Successfully Deploys Latest Batch of Starlink Satellites After Multiple Scrubs

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Jan 16, 2024

Falcon 9 Overcomes Weather and Technical Delays to Launch 22 More Satellites

After multiple scrubs due to poor weather conditions and minor technical issues, SpaceX successfully launched another batch of Starlink internet satellites aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on Sunday evening from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The rocket lifted off at 7:32 PM EST and deployed its payload into low Earth orbit about an hour later.

This was the seventh Starlink launch just this month and the first of 2024 from Florida’s Space Coast. With this mission, dubbed Starlink 6-37, SpaceX has now launched over 3,300 satellites as part of its ambitious effort to build a space-based global broadband network.

High Winds and Technical Glitches Cause Multiple Delays

The Starlink 6-37 mission was originally slated to launch on Saturday evening but was scrubbed due to high altitude winds. Teams attempted a second launch attempt 24 hours later, but that too was aborted at T-30 seconds when sensors detected anomalously high pressure in the rocket’s gas generators.

After replacing a suspect valve, troubleshooting the issue, and receiving favorable weather forecasts, SpaceX proceeded with a third launch attempt on Sunday night. This time, despite some rain showers earlier in the day, winds had died down enough and the rocket performed as expected.

“We have liftoff of Falcon 9 and Starlink,” exclaimed SpaceX engineer Jessica Anderson on the launch webcast as the rocket lit up the dark evening sky. “Vehicle is supersonic.”

The successful launch marked Falcon 9’s 300th mission since its debut back in 2010. It was the 13th launch for this particular first stage booster.

Milestones for Falcon 9 and Starlink

Milestone Details
Falcon 9’s 300th Launch This mission marked the 300th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since SpaceX first developed the vehicle in 2010.
Booster’s 13th Flight The reusable first stage flying this mission previously supported 12 launches, a new Falcon 9 record.
7th Launch of January The Starlink 6-37 mission was the 7th orbital launch by SpaceX just in the first half of January 2024.
3,300+ Starlink Satellites Deployed With this launch, SpaceX passed 3,300 broadband satellites launched for its Starlink constellation since 2019.

Starlink Constellation Continues Rapid Growth

This mission delivered 22 more advanced Starlink satellites to orbit, adding capacity to SpaceX’s growing broadband constellation. There are now over 3,000 Starlink satellites circling the planet, offering high-speed low-latency internet service across 40+ countries.

Starlink enables video calls, online gaming, streaming, and other bandwidth-intensive applications by beaming signals to users on the ground. SpaceX continues an aggressive launch pace, averaging over 2 Starlink missions per month, to expand coverage and bring speedier more reliable internet to remote regions.

With Starlink 6-37’s successful launch and deployment, the total in-orbit constellation stands at about 3,328 satellites. But SpaceX envisions expanding it much further, to as many as 42,000 satellites pending regulatory approval.

Fairing Catch Attempt and Drone Ship Landing

In a secondary objective, SpaceX attempted to recover the Falcon 9’s payload fairing halves after they jettisoned about three and a half minutes into flight. The company directed its twin fairing catch ships, Shelia Bordelon and Bob, to position themselves underneath the descending nose cone pieces.

Each ship has a giant net strung between four large struts protruding from its deck. The nets are designed to softly catch the fairings as they fall back from space. While not always successful, recovering these expensive components allows SpaceX to refurbish and reuse them on subsequent missions, further reducing launch costs.

Meanwhile, after depositing the Starlink satellites into orbit, the Falcon 9’s first stage gracefully touched down on SpaceX’s drone landing ship Just Read the Instructions stationed out in the Atlantic. This marked the 13th successful landing for this particular booster.

Next Up: SpaceX Commercial Crew Launch to Space Station

Now that Starlink 6-37 is safely on its way, SpaceX teams are turning their attention to the upcoming AX-3 commercial crew rotation mission to the International Space Station. That launch, using a different Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule, will send 4 private astronauts on a 10 day science expedition to the orbiting laboratory.

Liftoff of the Ax-3 SpaceX Crew-6 mission is NET Wednesday, January 18 from Kennedy Space Center’s Pad 39A. The 4-person crew, consisting of investors and philanthropists paying $50 million each for the flight, will spend over a week conducting experiments aboard the ISS before returning to Earth at the end of January.

Conclusion

With Starlink 6-37’s on-time liftoff and successful satellite deployment, SpaceX has started 2024 with a remarkably busy launch manifest as it works towards making affordable high-speed satellite internet a reality across the globe. The company still has an ambitious 20+ additional Falcon 9 flights scheduled for the rest of the year, with new Starlink batches, commercial satellites, and NASA payloads waiting to hitch a ride to space.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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