SpaceX launches Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral on record-breaking 18th flight – Spaceflight Now

A Falcon 9 rocket is lifted upright on Pad 40 in preparation for the Starlink delivery mission on November 3, 2023. Image: Adam Bernstein/Spaceflight Now.

Updated 2:24 PM EDT (1824 UTC): Launch time updated.

SpaceX aims to break another re-flying record on Friday night with the launch of 23 additional Starlink satellites on a Falcon 9 booster on its 18th flight.

The Starlink 6-26 mission is scheduled to launch from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 8:37 PM EDT (0037 UTC on November 4). It will send 23 Starlink V2 Mini satellites into low Earth orbit, bringing the total Starlink satellites launched in 2023 to 1,711.

If necessary, there are three backup opportunities from 9:01 PM to 10:22 PM EST (0101-0222 UTC). There are also eight additional launch periods on the evening of Saturday, November 4.

Spaceflight Now’s live coverage of the launch will begin about an hour before launch.

The 45th Weather Squadron stationed at Patrick Space Force Base predicted yesterday that there was an 80 percent favorable chance of liftoff on Friday, citing cumulonimbus clouds and liftoff winds as possible watchdogs. The weather deteriorates slightly on Saturday, providing 75 percent favorable conditions.

The booster on deck for this sunset mission, numbered B1058, is the oldest Falcon 9 booster currently flying. It first flew on May 30, 2020, launching former NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station on the Demo-2 mission. This was the first flight of the commercial crew program with astronauts on board. Since then, SpaceX has flown seven crew rotation missions to the orbiting station, as well as two special missions for astronauts.

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After liftoff, the booster will land on the drone, “A Shortfall of Gravitas,” about eight and a half minutes into the mission.

The Falcon 9 rocket that will launch the Demo-2 mission is emblazoned with NASA’s “worm” logo, which was withdrawn from official use in 1992. Image source: SpaceX

As SpaceX continues to work on adding Dragon capabilities to SLC-40 with a new crew access tower, Friday night’s mission will mark the company’s 152nd orbital launch since it began using the launch pad. This will be the 207th mass launch from this site.

As SpaceX prepares to launch its 52nd Starlink launch of the year, it is also working on another mission at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. NASA on Thursday announced another two-day delay to the launch. It is the third time the mission has been postponed due to a problem with one of the Draco engines aboard the Cargo Dragon ship that will fly the mission. It was previously scheduled to be released on November 3, 5 and 7.

“During the initial fuel loading in preparation for the CRS-29 mission, teams identified an NTO (nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer) leak in the Draco propellant valve, which according to standard procedure required a temporary operation pause for troubleshooting,” NASA said in a statement. statement. “The team checked the valve and related data and decided to replace the impeller.”

SpaceX’s 29th Commercial Resupply Services Program mission is currently targeting launch at 8:28 PM EDT on November 9 (0128 UTC on November 10).

Mission patch for the SpaceX CRS-29 mission to the International Space Station. Image: SpaceX

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