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March 4, 2024

SpaceX Launches Two Falcon 9 Rockets in One Day, Continues Ambitious 2024 Launch Campaign

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Jan 19, 2024

SpaceX successfully launched two Falcon 9 rockets on Sunday, January 15th, marking the first time the company has executed multiple orbital missions in a single day. The back-to-back launches underscore SpaceX’s breakneck launch pace as it works to build out its Starlink satellite internet constellation and gear up for crewed flights to the International Space Station (ISS) and beyond.

California Launch Deploys 51 Starlink Satellites

The first mission lifted off at 9:56 AM PST from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The Falcon 9 rocket carried 51 Starlink internet satellites to orbit and landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship stationed in the Pacific Ocean:

Starlink Group 7-11 Mission Details:

Falcon 9 Block 5 Rocket
Payload: 51 Starlink Satellites
Launch Site: SLC-4E, Vandenberg Space Force Base, CA
Launch Time: 9:56 AM PST 
Landing Site: Of Course I Still Love You droneship

This was the 13th dedicated Starlink launch from California and the 7th from Vandenberg. SpaceX has now launched over 3,500 Starlink satellites as it works to complete the initial phase of its internet constellation. While extremely fast low-latency internet service is now available via Starlink in many regions globally, SpaceX says 24 launches are still needed to enable continuous coverage of populated areas.

Florida Mission Deploys 52 More Starlinks

Mere hours after the West Coast event, another Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS) in Florida at 6:42 PM EST. This mission—designated Starlink 6-37—carried 52 satellites to orbit. The Falcon 9’s first stage landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship for its 14th successful droneship landing:

Starlink Group 6-37 Mission Details:  

Falcon 9 Block 5 Rocket
Payload: 52 Starlink Satellites  
Launch Site: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, FL
Launch Time: 6:42 PM EST
Landing Site: Just Read the Instructions droneship 

SpaceX has accelerated launch rates from Florida Launchpad LC-39A as it works through a busy manifest in early 2024. The company could conduct crewed flights for NASA and Axiom Space from the pad as early as February and March, leaving limited windows for its Starlink missions.

On Track for a Record Year of Launches

With Sunday’s two flawless launches, SpaceX has now completed three orbital missions in 2023. The company executed 61 launches last year—a new annual record—and appears to be on track to surpass that number in 2024.

CEO Elon Musk has stressed the importance of launch cadence, noting that a fast pace drives down costs through efficiencies. SpaceX is leveraging its fleet of flight-proven boosters to enable its breakneck launch manifest. Both of Sunday’s missions utilized reused Falcon 9 first stages—the California rocket completing its 13th launch and the Florida vehicle its 14th.

Upcoming launches on SpaceX’s packed manifest include:

  • The launch of Crew-6 to the ISS as soon as mid-February
  • An all-private Axiom Space crewed flight to orbit
  • Additional Starlink missions to continue building out SpaceX’s satellite constellation
  • Launches for government and commercial customers

“SpaceX shows no signs of slowing its rapid launch cadence in 2024,” said senior space industry analyst Maria Lopez. “The company is firing on all cylinders as it works to fulfill an ambitious vision of robustly reusable rockets and space-based internet.”

Supporting Crewed Spaceflight Ambitions

While SpaceX continues to cash in on its booming Starlink business, Musk maintains that enabling crewed exploration deeper into space remains the company’s ultimate purpose.

“SpaceX needs to pass through the revenue valley of death or we will die,” Musk said regarding Starlink. “But the goal definitely remains sending people to Mars and having a self-sustaining city there.”

The upcoming Crew-6 and AX-3 missions represent incremental progress toward Musk’s Martian dream, as SpaceX gains operational experience safely flying astronauts to low-Earth orbit via its human-rated Dragon spacecraft.

Upcoming SpaceX Crewed Flights:  

Mission | Launch Date | Details
:-- | :-- | :--  
Crew-6 | No Earlier Than Feb 16 | 4 astronauts to ISS for 6 months   
AX-3 | March 2024 | First fully private crewed flight to ISS

“Every astronaut SpaceX launches helps validate the systems and processes needed to one day transport crew further into the solar system,” Lopez said.

SpaceX’s towering Starship vehicle—currently in development in Texas—represents the company’s long-term spacecraft designed to ferry dozens of people to Mars. While Starship’s maiden orbital test flight could occur sometime in 2024, Musk has noted the path to rendering it fully operational will be arduous.

“We face a genuine risk of bankruptcy if we cannot achieve a Starship flight rate of at least once every two weeks next year,” Musk said at a SpaceX all-hands meeting in 2023.

Conclusion: SpaceX Firing on all Cylinders in 2024

With two launches in one day, SpaceX has opened 2024 extremely strong. The company shows no signs of slowing its operational tempo as it pursues an ambitious vision.

Upcoming missions in the next month include additional Starlink launches, a Crew Dragon flight to the ISS, and preparations for the first fully private crewed mission to orbit.

The breakneck launch pace helps SpaceX hone rocket reusability and streamline processes—moving it steps closer to Mars settlement. Not without challenges, the road ahead remains long. But with Sunday’s duo of successful missions, 2024 promises to be the company’s busiest and most pivotal year yet.

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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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