SpaceX completed a double launch night as the end of the year approached. A Falcon 9 rocket launched the Starlink 6-36 mission from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 11:01 p.m. EDT (0401 UTC) on Thursday.
This mission comes on the heels of Falcon Heavy launchSending the X-37B military spaceplane into orbit.
The two missions launched 2 hours, 48 minutes and 40 seconds apart, representing the fastest turnaround between orbital launches from Florida since the March 16, 1966 launch of the Agena target vehicle and Gemini 8, which were 1 hour, 40 minutes and 59 seconds apart.
The booster supporting this mission is tail number B1069, which made its twelfth flight. This was the ninth time the rocket had been launched from Space Launch Complex-40 (SLC-40). Three more launches were launched from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.
It debuted the 24th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-24) mission for SpaceX and will go on to launch seven Starlink missions as well.
About 8.5 minutes after takeoff, B1069 touched down again with the drone, “A Shortfall of Gravitas,” which was stationed near the Bahamas in the Atlantic Ocean.
The mission was the first flight of a Falcon 9 rocket since the rocket's return Destroyed The first stage booster, tail number B1058, was released earlier this week. After the B1069's maiden flight two years ago, SpaceX's Kiko Dontchev said they began offering self-leveling landing legs to help protect the booster as they return to port.
Very disappointing and sad to lose the 1058 booster.
Flip boosts occur when you get a certain set of landing conditions that result in uneven loading on the legs. High winds or sea conditions cause the booster to sway and slide which can result in worse leg loading. in… https://t.co/crDXK2yPH3
– Kiko Dontchev (@TurkeyBeaver) December 26, 2023