SpaceX Attempts Back-to-Back Launches of Its Falcon 9 Rocket


SpaceX is getting ready for another double-duty launch day launching two Falcon 9 rockets on Friday, just hours apart.

Update: March 17 at 8:58 p.m. ET: The second launch also went as planned, with Falcon 9 blasting off at 7:38 p.m. ET and successful deploying its payload.

Update: March 17 at 3:58 p.m. ET: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched at 3:26 p.m. ET to deliver 52 Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit, and the rocket’s first stage landed on the “Of course I Still Love You,” droneship at 3:36 p.m.

Original article follows.

The first liftoff is scheduled for Friday at 3:26 p.m. ET from Space Launch Complex 4 at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, where a Falcon 9 will carry the latest batch of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites to orbit. Later on in the day, another Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to launch at 7:38 p.m. ET from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, delivering SES-18 and SES-19 telecommunications satellites to geosynchronous transfer orbit.

Both launches will be available to stream live through SpaceX’s website, and you can also tune in through the feeds below. The live feed will begin shortly before launch time.

Starlink Mission

SES-18 and SES-19 Mission

SpaceX’s Starlink mission will loft 52 satellites to add to the company’s internet megaconstellation, with the total number of Starlinks in orbit currently at 3,751, according to stats collected by astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell. SpaceX has already launched eight Starlink missions so far this year, one of which delivered miniature versions of SpaceX’s next generation satellites (V2 Minis) that are designed to be bigger and more efficient than the first generation units.

Friday’s second launch of the day will carry SES-18 and SES-19, two telecommunications satellites built by Northrop Grumman and operated by a company in Luxembourg. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will deploy the satellites to a geosynchronous transfer orbit, a trajectory to get the satellites from one orbit to another. SpaceX last performed back-to-back launches on February 17.

Falcon 9, SpaceX’s medium launch vehicle, is partially reusable. The rocket’s first stage booster, powered by nine Merlin engines, lands vertically on a landing pad or droneship shortly after liftoff while the second stage delivers the payload. SpaceX has been relying heavily on its workhorse rocket, but the company is really eager to see its super heavy-lift launch vehicle Starship reach orbit. Powered by 33 Raptor 2 engines, Starship is built to carry heavier loads to space, and will be able to deliver SpaceX’s full-sized next-generation satellites.

Whether or not Starship will soon fly, SpaceX is gearing up for an action packed year as CEO Elon Musk is aiming for 100 launches in 2023. The company pulled off a whopping 60 launches in 2022, we’ll see if SpaceX has got what it takes this year to meet its new goal.

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