Falcon 9 Booster Set for Historic 20th Flight in SpaceX Launch

SpaceX is set to make history as it launches 23 satellites for its Starlink internet service from Cape Canaveral, using a Falcon 9 rocket. The launch is scheduled for 9:22 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. This event is unique because it will be the first time a Falcon 9 first-stage booster has been used for the 20th time. This record-setting launch comes only two days, 17 hours, and 42 minutes after another Falcon 9 rocket launch from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, beating the previous record for the shortest time between launches by nearly 22 hours.

The Falcon 9 rocket, with tail number 1062, has a significant history. It was first put into service in November 2020, carrying a GPS satellite for the U.S. Space Force. Since then, it has transported astronauts into space on two occasions, during the Inspiration 4 and Axiom 1 commercial missions. Additionally, it has completed 12 Starlink delivery missions.

The path of the Falcon 9 will be towards the south-east, aiming for an orbit inclined at 43 degrees to the equator. The first stage booster will separate from the second stage approximately two and a half minutes into the flight and will proceed downrange for a landing on the drone ship ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas’, located east of the Bahamas in the Atlantic. The 23 second-generation Starlink satellites will be placed into orbit by two burns of the rocket’s second stage, with deployment happening about one hour, five minutes post-launch.

As of now, SpaceX’s Starlink internet service has a reported 2.3 million subscribers across more than 70 countries. Since 2019, the firm has launched a total of 6,189 satellites, out of which 5,787 remain in orbit, and 5,572 appear to be functioning normally, as per data collected by Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

This launch represents a significant milestone for SpaceX in its efforts to provide global internet coverage using a network of satellites and further highlights the reliability of the Falcon 9 boosters.

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