Updated at 4:40 a.m. EST (0840 UTC): Falcon 9 launched
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with 21 Starlink satellites lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 1:23 a.m. PT (4:23 a.m. EDT, 0823 UTC). This was the first of two Starlink delivery missions scheduled for Saturday.
The Falcon 9 rocket set off on a southeast trajectory after liftoff from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E). This was SpaceX’s 22nd mission from the West Coast this year and the 75th orbital launch of 2023 overall.
The first stage booster was making its 16th flight. It has previously launched Crew-1, Crew-2, SXM-8, CRS-23, IXPE, Transporter-4, Transporter-5, Globalstar FM15 and ISI EROS C-3 missions, as well as six Starlink delivery flights. After completing the main burn, which lasted about two and a half minutes, the first stage proceeded to land on the “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship stationed about 400 miles (644 km) in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California.
The 21 V2 Mini Starlink satellites will be deployed just over an hour after launch. The V2 Mini model is much larger than the previous V1.5 satellites. Equipped with upgraded antennas and larger solar panels, these next-generation spacecraft can deliver four times the bandwidth of previous satellites. This is the 28th launch of the V2 Minis since its launch in February this year.
A second Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to launch on Saturday, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Liftoff is scheduled for 10:17 PM EDT (0217 UTC) carrying 23 Starlinks satellites, the largest number of V2 Mini satellites that can be carried aloft in a single mission.
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