Falcon 9 Rocket Launches Starlink Mission at Sunset from Vandenberg Space Force Base by SpaceX

SpaceX has had a busy week, starting with the third test flight of its Starship rocket and three Falcon 9 missions. The company successfully launched 22 Starlink satellites from its pad at Vandenberg Space Force Base. The launch took place on the Starlink 7-16 mission from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at 7:28 p.m. PT (1028 p.m. ET, 0228 UTC).

The Falcon 9 first stage booster, identified by the tail number B1075, saw its 10th launch with this mission. The booster had previously been deployed for two missions with the U.S. Space Development Agency and seven other Starlink missions. After its launch, B1075 managed to land on SpaceX’s droneship named ‘Of Course I Still Love You.’ This marked the 86th landing on this particular droneship and the 285th successful landing of a SpaceX booster overall.

While this mission was underway, preparations were being made for a Cargo Dragon launch from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. This upcoming launch will mark the 30th flight under SpaceX’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA. The contract enables SpaceX to send cargo and scientific instruments to the International Space Station (ISS).

Another noteworthy aspect of this mission is that it will mark the first time a second-generation Dragon spacecraft will be sent to the ISS from SLC-40. The first-ever Dragon capsule was launched from this pad in 2010 on the initial Falcon 9 rocket. However, after the first-generation Dragon was retired following the CRS-20 mission in March 2020, operations were switched to pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.

The successful launch of the Starlink satellites and the upcoming Cargo Dragon mission underscore SpaceX’s ongoing commitment to advancing space exploration and satellite technology. These missions also highlight the company’s continuous efforts to improve the reusability of its spacecraft and boosters, a key factor in reducing the costs associated with space travel.

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