Starlink L23 Makes A Daylight Spectacle

Photo Credit: Zac Shaul – NHS

April 7th, 2021, 12:23 PM Est – from SLC-40 at CCSFS atop a Falcon 9 rocket

With a slew of launches happening overnight this year SpaceX has decided high noon for it’s next Starlink show down. Well just after high noon anyway, at twenty-three minutes past the hour Falcon 9 booster 1058 roared to life with almost 1.8 million pounds of thrust easing it off the launch pad and into the open skies. On board was another batch of sixty Starlink satellites deploying to the ever growing constellation Elon Musk has used to start producing high speed, low latency internet in select areas across our country so far. With every launch the area capable of internet service broadens and makes his goal of bringing affordable internet across our globe one step closer to reality.

Photo Credit: Zac Shaul – NHS

With the 45th Space Wing calling for a 90% chance of GO for launch there was little doubt we would see anything other than that. Weather held true to that forecast with the primary concerns being cumulous clouds, but not enough of a concern to scrub. When the countdown struck T-Zero all nine of the Merlin 1D engines ignited and off went booster 1058 on it’s seventh mission. The third mission for this booster to happen this year as well, making it one of the most used in the SpaceX arsenal. It first flew just under one year ago when it delivered astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS (International Space Station). From there it has delivered the CRS-21 ISS resupply mission to the Space Station, a few Starlink missions, and the Transporter-1 mission where the most satellites ever where launched at once.

The drone ship for today is the “Of Course I Still Love You” situated in the usual Starlink area about 633km offshore, North East of Cape Canaveral. Along with the “OCISLY” is the Sheila Bordelon, SpaceX’s newest boat who has recently taken place of the GO MS Chief, and GO MS Tree boats used in catching and/or recovering the fairing halves used. Yesterday in Port Canaveral we said fair well to those two boats as they departed under a mariners send off to end their career in fairing recovery operations. SpaceX has been all about reusability, and efficiency. MS Tree, and MS Chief were there to catch the fairing halves as they fell from the sky, slowed by parachutes to attempt in stopping them from reaching the corrosive salt water. With a few catches under their belt it seems that the procedure just wasn’t effective enough for the company to continue with these attempts.

When booster 1058 landed roughly eight minutes after lift off it became the overall 79th landing of a Falcon 9 rocket, and the third 7th flight of a booster. It’s also the twenty first overall orbital attempt of the year, with ten of those launches coming from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.