SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Launches 15 Starlink Satellites to Join Expanding Constellation

Key Points

  • 🚀 SpaceX successfully launched 15 V2 mini Starlink satellites through thick fog in California.
  • 🌍 These satellites are part of the Starlink constellation, contributing to a growing network.
  • 🌌 The Falcon 9’s first and second stages separated, with successful landing and recovery.
  • 🛰️ The total number of Starlink satellites launched now reaches 4,918.
  • 🌐 SpaceX maintains focus on efficient launches and aims for continuous improvement.

Despite the thick fog, the Falcon 9 successfully launched 15 V2 mini Starlink satellites last night in California.

Taking off at 9:57 p.m. PT (03:57 UTC), the Falcon 9 lifted off from a fog-covered Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Space Force Base. These 15 satellites make up the Group 6-20 segment of the Starlink constellation.

Following the launch to the Southeast, creating a spectacle in Southern California, the Falcon 9’s first and second stages separated. As the first stage re-entered the atmosphere, the second stage executed a dog-leg maneuver over the Baja Peninsula, Mexico, aligning it with the proper 43-degree orbital inclination.

For now, SpaceX appears to be limiting the California launches to 15 V2 mini Starlinks, potentially due to additional performance requirements, while still retaining the capacity to recover the Falcon 9 first stage. This is in contrast to launches from Florida, where at least 22 satellites can fit within the fairing.

With the addition of these 15 satellites, the total launched within the Starlink Constellation has reached 4,918. While they undergo checkouts, it will take some time for these satellites to reach their operational orbits. Their placement in low Earth orbit offers an advantage; if any issues arise, SpaceX can safely deorbit them to prevent space debris.

Regarding the first stage of this mission, Booster 1075, it completed its 5th mission—four of which were Starlink missions, with the other being the Transport and Tracking Layer (Tranche 0, Flight 1). Roughly nine and a half minutes after lift-off, the first stage successfully landed on the droneship ‘Of Course I Still Love You.’

The fairings for this mission were on their 6th flight and will aim to be recovered by Go Beyond, SpaceX’s West Coast fairing recovery vessel.

This launch marks SpaceX’s 54th mission this year and the 215th overall landing of an orbital class rocket between the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy.

The next venture for SpaceX is yet another Starlink launch. Expected no earlier than Thursday evening, a Falcon 9 will carry up to 22 V2 mini Starlinks from Florida, pending SpaceX’s confirmation.

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