UPDATE 9:05 pm EDT (2222 UTC): Launch at 8:39 PM EDT (0039 UTC).
SpaceX continued its double launch on Friday, October 13, launching a Falcon 9 rocket in the evening and sending 22 Starlink V2 mini satellites into low Earth orbit.
Tuesday evening’s launch was at 8:39 p.m. EDT (0039 UTC on Oct. 18) from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
The Starlink Group 6-23 mission came 4 days, 1 hour and 38 minutes after the last mission to launch from the SLC-40, Starlink Group 6-22 mission, which launched at 7:01 PM EDT (2301 UTC) on Friday. .
With Tuesday evening’s successful launch, SpaceX completed its 74th launch of 2023. In other words, it was launched every 3.92 days on average. Following Friday’s Starlink launch, SpaceX has sent more than 900 metric tons into orbit this year, the company said in a post over the weekend on social media platform X.
The mission’s launch booster, B1062, made its 16th flight, including the INSPIRATION4 civilian astronaut mission, the Ax-1 private space probe and two GPS satellites. About 8.5 minutes after launch, it landed on the drone ship, “Read the instructions.”
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 15, 2023
That last launch brought SpaceX one step closer to having 5,000 satellites in orbit. According to Information Compiled by Jonathan McDowell, an expert in astrophysics and spaceflight operations, of the 5,265 Starlink satellites launched into LEO on October 13, 4,905 are still in orbit and 4,874 are currently operational.
There are currently 467 Starlink satellites deployed in the constellation’s current Group 6 shell, of which 448 are listed as “operational”.
All of this comes as SpaceX pushes toward the second integrated flight test of its Starship rocket from the Starbase launch and test site in South Texas. The company repositioned the upper stage, known as Ship 25, on Booster 9 ahead of a wet dress rehearsal at a yet-to-be-announced date.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not yet issued a launch license for the IFT-2 mission. SpaceX will use Starship to launch its Starlink version 2 satellites, although in a recent conference fireside chat, founder Elon Musk mentioned version 3 satellites, so it’s unclear whether the company is renaming the type of satellites Starship will launch.
“I think there’s a good chance we’ll be able to launch Starlink V3 satellites next year, roughly a year from now,” Musk said in his Oct. 5 remarks.
The starship is fully decked out as the team prepares for opening rehearsals. We continue to work with the FAA on launch licensing pic.twitter.com/1uJdDmCouI
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 16, 2023