Falcon 9 Rocket Deployed by SpaceX for Starlink Mission from Kennedy Space Center

SpaceX has successfully completed another Falcon 9 rocket launch from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, carrying out the Starlink 6-51 mission, a fortnight after the inaugural Bandwagon-1 rideshare mission from the same location. The launch took place at 5:26 p.m. EDT during a four-hour launch window.

This mission brings SpaceX closer to matching the total number of Space Shuttle missions launched from this historic pad – 82 shuttle flights, compared to the Falcon’s current tally of 81 launches. To date, the pad has hosted 174 orbital flights, including nine Falcon Heavy rockets and 72 Falcon 9 rockets, with 11 Saturn 5 launches adding to the count.

The Falcon 9 rocket for this mission, designated B1077 in the SpaceX fleet, recorded its 12th launch. Its previous missions include the Crew-5 flight for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, the deployment of the GPS 3 Space Vehicle 06 geostationary satellite, and a Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft transport for the NG-20 mission to the International Space Station.

Approximately 8.5 minutes after liftoff, the first-stage booster B1077 made a successful landing on the SpaceX droneship, ‘Just Read the Instructions’, marking its 78th booster landing and the 298th landing for SpaceX overall. This achievement followed closely on the heels of B1062 securing flight leader status with a record-breaking 20 launches.

The Starlink 6-51 mission delivered an additional 23 Starlink satellites to join the existing 5,809 in orbit, according to data from astronomer and expert orbital tracker, Jonathan McDowell. So far in 2024, SpaceX has launched 564 Starlink satellites and this mission represents its 26th flight this year to augment the network.

The Starlink project is a part of SpaceX’s ambitious plan to create a satellite network that provides global broadband internet coverage, aiming to bring internet access to remote and rural areas where connectivity is currently poor or non-existent. With each successful launch and landing, SpaceX is not only expanding its satellite network but also demonstrating the viability and potential cost-saving benefits of reusable rocket technology.

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