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SpaceX launches Starlink mission, prepares to detach Crew Dragon from International Space Station Monday – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX launches Starlink mission, prepares to detach Crew Dragon from International Space Station Monday – Spaceflight Now
A Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station as the Starlink 6-43 mission launches at sunset on March 10, 2024. Image: Stephen Young/Space Flight Now

SpaceX is wrapping up the weekend with a pair of Falcon 9 launches planned from Florida and California while also preparing to detach the Crew Dragon Endurance from the International Space Station.

The Falcon 9 rocket supporting the Starlink 6-43 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 7:05 p.m. EDT (2305 UTC). It will add 23 Starlink satellites to the growing low-Earth orbit constellation.

Launch weather forecasts from the 45th Weather Squadron show a greater than 95 percent chance of favorable weather at liftoff with no additional risk criteria listed as controls.

The first stage booster supporting this mission, tail number B1077, was launched for the 11th time. It previously supported the Crew-5 mission, the Commercial Resupply Services 28 (CRS-28) mission, and the Northrop Grumman 20 (NG-20) Cygnus flight to the International Space Station.

About 8.5 minutes after liftoff, the booster landed on the SpaceX drone. “Just read the instructions.” This will be the 74th landing aboard JRTI and the 218th booster landing to date.

The mission comes as NASA and SpaceX also aim to launch the first second-generation Cargo Dragon spacecraft bound for the orbital outpost from SLC-40 later this month. A launch date has not been announced, but it will use the new crew access tower for the first time.

The dragon returns home

While SpaceX has worked on the Starlink 6-43 mission from Florida, and prepared for the Starlink 7-17 mission from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, it is also working with NASA to return the Crew-7 mission quadrant from the International Space Station.

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The astronauts and cosmonaut bid a formal farewell to the rest of Expedition 70 during a ceremony Sunday morning, which culminated in a change of command ceremony in which ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen handed the ceremonial key to Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko.

“You have now surpassed the previous record and are on your way to 1,000 days in space. I don’t think I can leave it in better hands,” Mogensen told Kononenko.

Crew Dragon Endurance landing is scheduled for 11:05 AM EDT (1505 UTC) on Monday, March 11, and landing is expected to occur around 5:35 AM EDT (0935 UTC) on Tuesday 12 March.