SpaceX launches 20 Starlink satellites aboard Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Space Force Base – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX’s stack of Starlink satellites, including the first six with direct-to-cell capabilities. Jan. 2, 2024, the launch module on the Starlink 7-9 mission that lifted off from the Vandenberg Space Force Base. Image: SpaceX

SpaceX launched another batch of its Starlink satellites over the weekend. The mission, named Starlink 8-8, added 20 more satellites to Earth’s low-orbit zone, including 13 with live-cell capabilities.

Liftoff from Vandenberg Space Force Base took place at 5:58 a.m. PDT (8:58 a.m. EDT, 1258 UTC). SpaceX launched 22 Starlink satellites from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in less than 12 hours and the launch came about 48 hours after the fourth flight of its Starship rocket lifted off from South Texas.

The Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting the mission, tail number B1061, is the 21st launch in the SpaceX fleet, joining B1062 as the company’s flight leaders. B1061 had previously launched two astronauts (Crew-1 and Crew-2), two multi-satellite rideshare missions (Transporter-4 and Transporter-5) and nine previous Starlink missions.

Minutes after takeoff, B1061 landed on SpaceX’s droneship, saying, ‘Of course I still love you.’ This marked the 92nd landing at OCISLY and the 318th booster landing to date.

On June 1, Michael Nichols, SpaceX’s vice president of Starlink engineering, noted that 11 Starlink launches in May included 26 direct-to-cell Starlink satellites, delivering “more than 8 percent of the sats needed for initial direct-to-cell service.”

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