June 16, 2024

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SpaceX reaches nearly 6,000 Starlink satellites into orbit after Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX reaches nearly 6,000 Starlink satellites into orbit after Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral – Spaceflight Now
A Falcon 9 rocket races through the night sky over Florida as it lifts off on the Starlink 6-58 mission on May 12, 2024. Photo: Adam Bernstein/Spaceflight Now

SpaceX launched a constellation of 23 Starlink satellites on its Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. This brings the total number of Starlink satellites to 5,999 satellites in orbit. According to According to the numbers published on Sunday by orbital tracking expert and astronomer Jonathan McDowell. He noted that one of the satellites, designated as S-2601, re-entered the atmosphere earlier today.

The Starlink 6-58 mission was launched from Space Launch Complex 40 at 8:53 PM EDT (0053 UTC). This was SpaceX’s 34th Starlink launch intended for 2024.

The Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission, B1073 in the SpaceX fleet, has made its 15th flight. Among its previous missions, B1073 has launched ispace’s HAKUTO-R lunar lander, SpaceX’s Commercial Resupply Services 27 (CRS-27) mission, and the Bandwagon-1 ride-sharing flight.

Just over eight minutes after liftoff, B1073 touched down on the SpaceX drone, dubbed “A Shortfall of Gravitas.” This was the 69th booster landing for ASOG and the 307th booster landing for SpaceX to date.

SpaceX launches its Falcon 9 rocket on the Starlink 6-58 mission on May 12, 2024. Image: Michael Cain/Spaceflight Now

The mission came amid a weekend of historic solar activity that brought the aurora as far south as Florida. At least five coronal mass ejections have been observed by NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Friday. Space Weather Prediction Center To that point.

As of Sunday morning, SWPC said a “G4 or major watch” remains in effect through May 12, citing the possibility of “a severe to severe geomagnetic storm occurring again later today.”

Elon Musk said, in a post on the social networking site X (formerly known as Twitter), that SpaceX is closely monitoring the impact of solar storms on the Starlink constellation.

The fourth spacecraft flight

The launch activity in Florida also comes as SpaceX approaches the fourth integrated flight test of its Starship rocket in South Texas. The Super Heavy Booster (Booster 11) is currently on the Orbital Launch Pad (OLM) and the upper stage of Ship 29 was prepared for stacking on Sunday afternoon.

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Musk said in a separate post that he expects IFT-4 to be “most likely three to five weeks away,” which would put the mission sometime in the first half of June.

While the company awaits FAA approval for its upcoming spacecraft launch, the FAA also released information indicating that it will conduct an environmental review regarding spacecraft launches at Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Two in-person meetings are scheduled for June 12 and 13 at Cape Canaveral and Merritt Island respectively to allow the public to comment on the proposal. A virtual meeting is scheduled for June 17.

While the Starship’s final environmental assessment was completed in September 2019, the FAA stated that “SpaceX did not submit a vehicle operator license application for Starship-Super Heavy launches in LC-39A after completing the 2019 EA; therefore, the FAA did not have Federal Action to Adopt NASA EA/FONSI (Finding of No Significant Impact).”

The agency said that SpaceX now Suggest New launch infrastructure was not part of EA’s 2019 launch and aims to launch up to 44 launches per year. SpaceX will also perform Super Heavy and Starship landings either on the LC-39A, on a drone for reusable missions, or disposed of in the ocean for expendable missions.