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

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

A Falcon 9 rocket soars across the sky, sending 23 Starlink V2 Mini satellites on their way to low Earth orbit. This was the 18th launch and landing of this rocket, which has tail number 1058. Photo: Michael Caine

SpaceX broke another re-flying record on Friday evening with the launch of 23 additional Starlink satellites on its Falcon 9 booster on its 18th flight.

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

The booster for this mission, tail number 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 orbital station, as well as two special missions for astronauts.

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The Falcon 9 rocket that will launch the Demo-2 mission is emblazoned with NASA’s “worm” logo, which was withdrawn from official use in 1992.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

While SpaceX has launched 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.

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“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