January 6th at 4:49 PM Est atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center
SpaceX is wasting no time; we are less than a week into the new year and their first rocket is already vertical ahead of this evening’s launch. Booster 1062 is going to make its fourth flight for the company as it launches a batch of forty-nine Starlink satellites. First seen in November of 2020, B1062 has flown three missions in the last fourteen months, all on the space coast. Most notably it flew the Inspiration 4 mission where four civilian astronauts spent three days in orbit inside the Dragon capsule Resilience.
We know that originally in 2022 SpaceX had planned to have zero Starlink launches atop Falcon 9 rockets, moving them all to the Starship program, but with things running behind in Texas and no orbital Starship flights having taken place it would seem we will get at least a few more Starlink missions. In fact, there will be six Starlink missions launched before the end of April, that’s with eight commercial customer missions planned as well. Of course, that is if everything goes according to plan, we did see the grid fins and legs taken off of B1069 which indicates it may not be launching anytime soon, if ever again. Either way things are really picking up for SpaceX this year. It should be a monumental one at that, with over forty Falcon 9 launches planned and Starship hopefully getting orbital it seems Elon Musk has no intentions of letting SpaceX go bankrupt.
This launch also marks the one-hundred-thirty-fifth launch of a Falcon 9 rocket and the one-hundred-first landing of a booster. To catch that booster offshore, 620km in the Atlantic is drone ship “A Shortfall of Gravitas” the fleets newest booster catcher. Along with ASOG is the new tug “Zion M Falgout” and support ship “Doug” which will also recover the fairing halves, 665km down range. This landing also marks the twenty-seventh in a row, that’s a new record for SpaceX as well. B1059 was the last booster to fail a landing when in February of 2021 it didn’t survive the Starlink L-19 mission when it crashed attempting land on the drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You”