SpaceX Launches 23 Starlink Satellites on Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral – Space Travel Now

On April 28, 2024, a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station launched 23 Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit. Image: Adam Bernstein/Space Travel Now

Following the European Commission's historic launch of a pair of Galileo satellites, SpaceX launched another set of its own Starlink high-speed Internet satellites. Sunday evening's Falcon 9 launch marked the 29th dedicated launch of Starlink satellites in 2024.

Starlink 6-54 mission liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS) at 6:08 pm EDT (2208 UTC).

The Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting the mission, tail number B1076 in the SpaceX fleet, launched for the 13th time. It previously supported Ovzon 3, Intelsat IS-40e, SpaceX's 26th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-26) flight and six Starlink missions.

Eight minutes after liftoff, B1076 landed on the SpaceX droneship, 'read instructions.' This is the 80th landing at JRTI and 301st booster landing till date.

In a social media post, SpaceX Vice President of Launch Kiko Dontsev noted that the team completed five hours of JRTI at Port Canaveral between the droneship's arrival and departure in support of the DroneShip 6-54 mission.

The 23 Starlink satellites add to the 5,874 currently in orbit, according to numbers tabulated on April 24 by astronomer and expert orbital observer Jonathan McDowell. Prior to this launch, 633 Starlink satellites have been launched in 2024.

On Wednesday, SpaceX announced that the Federated States of Micronesia, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean east of Australia, is the latest country to be added to the list of countries where Starlink service is available.

Dragon Departure

The Starlink 6-54 launch will begin its approximately 36-hour journey from the Florida coast to Splashtown, hours after the SpaceX cargo Dragon detaches from the International Space Station. Undocking took place at 1:10 pm EDT (1710 UTC).

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Tuesday morning's splashdown will bring the CRS-30 mission to an end. It will be attached to the ISS for more than 30 days and will return with more than 4,000 pounds of science experiments.

Another important step is Boeing's first crewed mission to an orbital outpost using its Starliner spacecraft.

Before that launch can take place, SpaceX must move its crew Dragon Endeavor spacecraft from the forward-facing port to the space-facing port of the Harmony module. The maneuver is scheduled to take place on May 2.

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