February 3rd at 1:13 PM Est from LC-39A at Kennedy Space Center
To end the month SpaceX has set a hard pace to follow for the rest of the year. A record breaking fifth launch has just lifted off for the company this afternoon as they send forty-nine more Starlink satellites into orbit. Interestingly enough this also comes as the company’s fifth launch this month/year to follow a Southern trajectory. Not quite a polar launch, as the satellites did not end up in a polar orbit, but the booster, B1061 still landed near the Bahamas on drone ship “A Shortfall of Gravitas”.
This comes as the sixth successful mission for that Falcon 9 booster B1061. It started its run with the SpaceX launching fleet back in November of 2020 when it first launch the Crew-1 mission, taking four astronauts to the International Space Station. We didn’t see it again until April of 2021 when Crew-2 took flight with four more astronauts headed to orbit to replaces those of Crew-1. From there it was to the SXM-8 mission in June of the same year where it brought up a broadcasting satellite for Sirius XM. Then in August it took up supplies and research to those astronauts it previously delivered on the CRS-23 mission. Lastly before now we saw it fly NASA’s IXPE mission last December. Most boosters have seen a Starlink mission by now, but B1061 has played a vital role for NASA over the last year launching eight astronauts and thousands of kilograms of cargo and research over our heads.
Once air born this Starlink group will mark the 35th operational Starlink mission, now totaling the number still in orbit around our planet to 1,923 satellites. This also marks the sixth launch of the fourth Starlink shell, with about thirty more Falcon 9 launches to go in order to fill this shell completely.
For those of you keeping track at home today’s mission is the 141th Falcon 9 launch, seventy-nine of those with a flight proven booster. It is also the thirty-first successful booster landing in a row with 106 total landings now. It’s the forty-fourth launch for SpaceX from LC-39A and the ninth orbital attempt of 2022, five of those coming from SpaceX.