SpaceX accomplished a doubleheader on St. Patrick’s Day, achieving two orbital missions on Friday (March 17).
The show began at 3:26 p.m. EST (1926 GMT), when SpaceX launched 52 of its Starlink internet satellites into orbit from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
Then, at 7:38 p.m. EDT (2338 GMT), a Falcon 9 carrying the SES-18 and SES-19 communications satellites lifted off from Space Force Station Cape Canaveral in Florida.
Both missions went according to plan: Starlink satellites were deployed to low Earth orbit (LEO) on schedule, and Falcon 9 successfully delivered SES-18 and SES-19 to geosynchronous transfer orbit.
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Both Falcon 9 first stages returned to Earth safely as well, touchdown at sea on SpaceX drones less than nine minutes after liftoff.
It was the eighth takeoff and landing of the Falcon 9 that launched Starlink and the sixth for the SES-18 and SES-19, according to SpaceX.
52 Starlink satellites are joining us More than 3,700 other spacecraft (Opens in a new tab) Into SpaceX’s huge broadband constellation, which will continue to grow far into the future: Elon Musk’s company got approval to deploy 12,000 Starlink satellites at LEO, and has applied for permission to increase 30,000 on top of that.
SES-18 and SES-19 went further. The duo is heading into geostationary orbit, about 22,200 miles (35,700 kilometers) above our planet. From this location, they will provide digital radio coverage to North America, According to EverydayAstronaut.com (Opens in a new tab).
Friday’s launches were the 18th and 19th of the year already for SpaceX. And the liftoffs will continue: Musk said last summer that SpaceX could launch as many as 100 orbital missions in 2023.
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