June 20, 2024

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SpaceX launches 20 Starlink satellites on Falcon 9 flight from Vandenberg Space Force Base – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX launches 20 Starlink satellites on Falcon 9 flight from Vandenberg Space Force Base – Spaceflight Now
A constellation of SpaceX Starlink satellites, which included the first six satellites to feature Direct to Cell capabilities. The batch was launched on the Starlink 7-9 mission, which lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base on January 2, 2024. Image: SpaceX

SpaceX kicked off the weekend by launching another batch of Starlink satellites. The mission, dubbed Starlink 8-8, added 20 more satellites to the low-Earth orbit constellation, including 13 with Direct to Cell capabilities.

Liftoff took place from Vandenberg Space Force Base at 5:58 a.m. PDT (8:58 a.m. EDT, 1258 UTC). The launch came less than 12 hours after SpaceX launched 22 Starlink satellites from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and nearly 48 hours after the fourth flight of the Starship rocket launched from South Texas.

The Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission, tail number B1061 in the SpaceX fleet, was launched for the 21st time, linking B1062 as the company’s flight leader. B1061 has previously launched two astronaut quartets (Crew-1 and Crew-2), two multi-satellite ride-sharing missions (Transporter-4 and Transporter-5), as well as nine previous Starlink missions.

Just over a few minutes after liftoff, SpaceX’s drone, B1061, touched down with the words “Of course I still love you.” This marked the 92nd landing on OCISLY and the 318th booster landing to date.

On June 1, Michael Nichols, vice president of Starlink Engineering at SpaceX, noted that the 11 Starlink launches in May included 26 Starlink direct-to-cell satellites that provided “more than 8 percent of the satellites needed for the initial direct-to-cell service.” “