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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket soared into clear skies above Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Saturday, completing a coast-to-coast flurry of launches just under 24 hours apart.
The 230-foot rocket flying from Launch Complex 40 boosted 53 Starlink satellites at 4:40 pm EDT and, less than an hour later, delivered them to low-Earth orbit. It marked the 47th launch for the internet-beaming constellation.
It followed a Friday launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California where another Falcon 9 boosted the 47th batch of Starlink satellites. Over the last two days, SpaceX has delivered 106 Starlinks to orbit and pushed the constellation’s overall size closer and closer to 2,500 operational satellites.
Saturday’s Cape mission included a brand new booster, which completed its maiden flight without issue and landed on the Just Read the Instructions drone ship shortly after liftoff. It should return to Port Canaveral for refurbishment work early next week.
Looking ahead, the Space Coast is in for a double header next week if schedules hold.
First, another SpaceX Falcon 9 is slated to launch the company’s 48th batch of Starlink satellites from Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday, May 18. SpaceX has not yet confirmed the existence of this mission so details are sparse, but liftoff is expected sometime between 4 a.m. and 6 am EDT.
About 36 hours later, a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is responsible for taking Boeing’s Starliner capsule on its second demonstration mission to the International Space Station. Liftoff of the capsule from Cape Canaveral’s Launch Complex 41 is expected at 6:54 pm EDT. It marks Boeing’s second attempt at reaching the ISS with an uncrewed capsule after a 2019 test flight failed to meet objectives and had to return to the ground.
Both Boeing and SpaceX were selected by NASA to take astronauts to the ISS after the space shuttle program ended in mid-2011. SpaceX has taken five crews so far while Boeing could ferry its first before the end of this year if Thursday’s mission goes well.
For the latest, visit floridataday.com/launchschedule.
Launch Wednesday, May 18
- Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9
- Mission: 48th Starlink launch
- Launch Time: Early morning TBD
- Launch Pad: 39A at Kennedy Space Center
- Trajectory: Northeast
- Landing: Drone ship
- Weather: Forecast expected Sunday
Stay tuned for an exact liftoff time at floridataday.com/space. Real-time updates and video of Falcon 9’s launch will begin 60 minutes before liftoff.
Launch Thursday, May 19
- Rocket: United Launch Alliance Atlas V
- Mission: Boeing Starliner Orbital Flight Test 2
- Launch Time: 6:54 pm EDT
- Launch Complex: 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
- Trajectory: Northeast
- Weather: Forecast expected Monday
Visit floridataday.com/space at 5 pm EDT Thursday, May 19, for real-time updates and video of Atlas V’s launch.