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SpaceX launches Starlink mission from Cape Canaveral

Orlando Sentinel logoOrlando Sentinel 3/24/2023 Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel

SpaceX had to give up the spotlight to another rocket company this week, but returned to normal launch juggernaut form Friday with a Starlink mission from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

The Falcon 9 launch from Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 40 sent up 56 of the company’s internet satellites at 11:43 a.m.

The first-stage booster on this mission made its 10th flight and the company was able to recover it again on the droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas in the Atlantic Ocean.

The launch was the 15th for SpaceX from its two Space Coast launch pads in 2023 and 20th overall including launches from California.

Relativity Space is the only other rocket to launch from Florida this year sending up its first-ever rocket, the 3D-printed Terran 1 on the “GLHF” mission, as in “Good Luck, Have Fun,” on Wednesday night from Canaveral’s Launch Complex 16. While that rocket was able to lift off and achieve first-stage separation, the engine on the second stage was not able to get the test flight to orbit.

The only other company slated to fly this year from the Space Coast is United Launch Alliance, which has three missions coming up including the penultimate launch of the Delta IV Heavy for National Reconnaissance Office mission no earlier than April 20, the first flight of ULA’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket no earlier than May 4 and the crewed flight of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner atop an Atlas V rocket also now no earlier than May.

SpaceX, though, will continue to push through Falcon 9 launches as well as lining up another of its powerhouse Falcon Heavy flights, one as soon as April 8 to send up the ViaSat-3 Americas’ communications satellite.

Elon Musk said SpaceX could fly as many as 100 missions from all of its launch sites in 2023.

Since the company’s first launch in 2008, it has flown 219 successful orbital missions including 181 landings of its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy first-stage boosters, allowing for 153 reflights so far.

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