Falcon 9 by SpaceX Successfully Deploys 22 Starlink Satellites from California


SpaceX has successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base, carrying a batch of 22 Starlink satellites. The launch took place at 2:30 a.m. PST on a Monday, marking the 55th Starlink delivery mission of the year. The Falcon 9 rocket embarked on a south-easterly trajectory, aiming for a 183×178 mile (295×286 km) orbit, set at a 53-degree inclination to the equator.

The launch was not without its challenges. Preceding the successful takeoff, SpaceX had to halt a countdown for the Falcon 9 due to undisclosed issues. This resulted in an aborted launch attempt and the mission, dubbed Starlink 7-7, being delayed by a day. This delay was not the first for the mission, which had already experienced several postponements from its initial launch time.

The Falcon 9’s first stage booster, now on its 15th flight, has a notable track record. It previously facilitated various missions, including the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, DART, Transporter-7, Iridium OneWeb, and Space Development Agency Tranche 0B, as well as nine prior Starlink delivery missions. After completing its burn for the Starlink mission, the first stage made a successful landing on SpaceX’s drone ship ‘Of Course I Still Love You’, located approximately 400 miles (644km) downrange in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Baja California.

Over an hour after the launch, the 22 V2 Mini Starlink satellites were successfully deployed. These satellites are a newer, larger model than their V1.5 predecessors, featuring upgraded antennae and more expansive solar panels. As a result, they can deliver four times the bandwidth of the previous satellites.

SpaceX’s Starlink project aims to provide global internet coverage, and the company recently reported having over two million subscribers across 60 countries. As of the Monday launch, SpaceX has put 5,445 satellites into space, with 5,078 still in orbit, according to data compiled by astronomer Jonathan McDowell from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.



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