Second Falcon 9 rocket reaches thirteen flights
July 7th at 9:11 am E.T. from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
SpaceX launches for the first time in the second half of the year with another fifty-three Starlink satellites launching into low Earth orbit. Lift off at 9:11 am E.T. as their workhorse rocket, the Falcon 9 launched from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Today’s launch marks the twenty-eighth of the year for the company and ahead of many more if they wish to hit their target of fifty launches this year.
Launching today’s mission was none other than America’s favorite Falcon 9, B1058. This was the same booster that returned crewed space flight to American soil back in May of 2020 when astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley launched on a test flight to the International Space Station. It also ties the rank of most flown booster for SpaceX as B1060 made the first thirteenth flight earlier this year.
When all nine Merlin 1D engines ignited and sent the payload on its way the first stage burned for two and half minutes as she soared through the lower atmosphere. Once those engines shut off and the second stage separated a single Merlin vacuum engine ignited and carried the second stage and payload further into orbit. At this time the first stage positioned itself for reentry and executed the entry & landing burns flawlessly as it came down on the drone ship Just Read the Instructions which was positioned about 664 kilometers downrange in the Atlantic Ocean.
After about a six and a half minute burn the Merlin vacuum engine shut down to insert the Starlink satellites into the proper LEO (Low Earth Orbit). Around this time the two fairing halves splashed down in the Atlantic as well after being jettisoned about ten seconds after the start of the second stage burn. They were recovered by the support vessel Bob, one of the latest additions to SpaceX’s maritime fleet.
These fifty-three satellites will raise the current number of launched Starlinks to 2,706, with 2,030 still operational. There are currently forty-four still in orbit but not maneuvering and that’s 253 that have already reentered Earth’s atmosphere and burned up.
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