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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket soared into clear skies over the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Saturday, completing a flurry of coast-to-coast launches just under 24 hours apart.
The 230-foot rocket flying from Launch Complex 40 boosted 53 Starlink satellites at 4:40 p.m. EDT and, less than an hour later, carried them into low-Earth orbit. It marked the 47th launch of the Internet streaming constellation.
It followed a launch Friday from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, where another Falcon 9 powered the 47th batch of Starlink satellites. In the past two days, SpaceX has launched 106 Starlinks into orbit, bringing the total constellation size closer to 2,500 operational satellites.
Saturday’s Cape mission included a new booster, which completed its maiden flight without issue and landed on the Just Read the Instructions drone shortly after liftoff. It should return to Port Canaveral for refurbishment work early next week.
Looking ahead, Space Coast will have a double header next week if the schedules hold.
First, another SpaceX Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch the company’s 48th batch of Starlink satellites from the Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday, May 18. SpaceX has yet to confirm the existence of this mission, so details are scant, but liftoff is expected sometime between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. EDT.
Approximately 36 hours later, a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is responsible for carrying Boeing’s Starliner capsule on its second demonstration mission to the International Space Station. Liftoff of the capsule from Cape Canaveral Launch Complex 41 is expected at 6:54 pm EDT. It marks Boeing’s second attempt to reach the ISS with an unmanned capsule after a 2019 test flight failed to meet objectives and had to return to earth.
Both Boeing and SpaceX were selected by NASA to carry astronauts to the ISS after the space shuttle program ended in mid-2011. SpaceX has carried five crews so far, while Boeing could carry its first before the end of this year if Thursday’s mission goes well.
For the latest news, visit floridatoday.com/launchschedule.
Contact Emre Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 321-242-3715. follow him on TwitterFacebook and Instagram at @EmreKelly.
Launch Wednesday May 18
- Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9
- Mission: 48th Starlink Launch
- Release time: Early morning TBD
- Launch Pad: 39A at the Kennedy Space Center
- Trajectory: Northeast
- Landing: drone
- Weather: Forecast expected on Sunday
Stay tuned for the exact liftoff time at floridatoday.com/space. Real-time updates and video of the Falcon 9 launch will begin 60 minutes before liftoff.
Launch Thursday May 19
- Rocket: United Launch Alliance Atlas V
- Mission: Boeing Starliner 2 Orbital Flight Test
- Release time: 6:54 p.m. EDT
- Launch Complex: 41 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
- Trajectory: Northeast
- Weather: Forecast expected on Monday
Visit floridatoday.com/space at 5 p.m. EDT on Thursday, May 19 for real-time updates and videos of the Atlas V launch.