A SpaceX Falcon 9 launch Thursday morning lit up the nighttime, early-morning sky over Florida’s Space Coast for the second time in a week. 53 of the company’s internet-beaming Starlink satellites were carried into orbit by the 230-foot rocket, which blasted off at 2:58 a.m. Eastern Standard Time from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. After launching two Starlink missions from its Vandenberg Space Force Base pad in California last month, this launch represents SpaceX’s ninth overall and sixth from Florida this year.
Before stage separation, Falcon 9 flew a southerly trajectory and passed close to Florida’s east coast. The rocket’s first-stage booster somersaulted to land on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean nine minutes into the mission. It was the booster’s fifth flight to space and back when it was finished. To place the Starlink satellites in orbit before the anticipated deployment, which is expected to occur a little over an hour after liftoff, the Falcon 9 second stage resumed its voyage, weaving between the country and The Bahamas.
The satellites will likely spend the following few days separating and raising their orbits after being deployed before starting to operate alongside the more than 3,600 already in operation. In addition to providing access to RVs, boats, planes, and cruise ships, SpaceX advertises that their Starlink satellite internet service connects isolated and rural areas of the world. Most residential clients’ monthly service costs begin at $110 and include a $599 setup fee. Although precise launch dates have not yet been announced, more SpaceX launches loaded with Starlink satellites are anticipated from Florida this month.
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However, Crew-6, NASA’s upcoming long-duration human mission to the International Space Station, is one SpaceX Falcon 9 mission for which a confirmation exists. Including United Arab Emirates’ Sultan Al Neyadi (Instagram), Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, and NASA’s Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, the crew is scheduled to launch in a Crew Dragon capsule from the Kennedy Space Center at 2:07 a.m. EST on February 26.
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