SpaceX to send 23 Starlink satellites to orbit on 90th Falcon launch in 2023 – Spaceflight Now

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A Falcon 9 rocket sits on the pad at Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The rocket supports the Starlink 6-33 mission for SpaceX. Image: Adam Bernstein

Update 9:15 pm EST: Adjusted to reflect the new target release time.

SpaceX is preparing to reach another milestone with the nighttime launch of its Starlink mission. The flight from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station will mark the company’s 90th orbital launch in 2023 and the Falcon 9’s 280th launch to date.

Liftoff of the Starlink 6-33 mission is scheduled for 12:07 pm EST (0507 UTC) from Space Launch Complex 40.

Spaceflight Now will have live coverage of the mission starting one hour before takeoff on YouTube.

The weather for the mission is ideal at the time of takeoff, but meteorologists are also paying attention to the image. Takeoff winds are the only watch element in a forecast that predicts 95 percent favorable weather.

“A secondary push of cold air will seep into the area. [on Wednesday], which will bring clear skies and a stronger pressure gradient over the Space Coast,” the launch forecast said. “This will result in gusty surface winds through tomorrow night, which will slowly decrease throughout the launch window, so takeoff winds will remain the only concern.”

The forecast also noted that upper-level wind shear is considered “low to moderate” and was highlighted in the Additional Risk Criteria section.

If the Starlink 6-33 mission can launch on time, it will mark the third-fastest timeline for SpaceX’s launch pad, SLC-40. This mission will be SpaceX’s 159th orbital launch from this platform.

The first stage booster used for the launch is tail number 1077, which is launched on its ninth flight with this mission. Notable previous launches include Crew-5 and GPS 3 Space Vehicle 06.

You will land on the unmanned craft, just read the instructions, about eight and a half minutes after takeoff. The 23 satellites on board will bring the total launched in 2023 to 1,871.

An infographic from analytics firm BryceTech, illustrating the amount of top-mass spacecraft sent into orbit during the third quarter of 2023. Graphic: BryceTech

Reposting an infographic from analytics firm BryceTech, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said the company is “working to launch more than 80 percent of all Earth’s payload into orbit this year.” Its third quarter report states that of the 63 orbital launches worldwide, SpaceX accounted for 26 of them.

Broken down even further, SpaceX launched significantly more into space than the rest of the world combined. It launched 519 spacecraft during the third quarter compared to the next closest China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), which launched 24 spacecraft.

The statistic Musk cited from BryceTech was one he often likes to show: the mass of the spacecraft in orbit. That graph shows that in the third quarter, SpaceX put 381,278 kg into orbit, followed by CASC with 24,560 kg and Roscosmos with 17,475 kg.

Meanwhile, at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, teams continue working toward what will likely end up being the final launch from that pad in 2023. The Falcon Heavy supporting the USSF-52 mission returned to the adjacent hangar On tuesday night. in anticipation of integrating the X-37B space plane into the rocket.

The launch of the ninth Falcon Heavy to date continues to be targeted for December 10.

The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket supporting the USSF-52 mission returned to the Launch Complex 39A hangar for payload integration. The mission launching the X-37B aims to take off on December 10. Image: Spaceflight Now

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