March 18th at 11:24 PM Est from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
It’s been a busy twenty-four hours at Cape Canaveral with SLS rolling out for the first time, but things haven’t slowed down any as SpaceX has just launched another Falcon 9 rocket late this evening for the Starlink 4-12 mission. As NASA’s newest moon rocket, SLS sat on LC-39B, Falcon 9 launched from a few miles away at SLC-40.
Tonight’s launch comes as another “first” in a long line of “firsts” for SpaceX recently. Falcon 9 B1051 is making the first ever twelfth flight of a booster for the company this evening as it delivers another batch of fifty-three satellites into Low Earth Orbit. B1051 is currently the second oldest Falcon 9 still in use from the launch fleet. It debuted its career on march 2nd, 2019 with the DM-! mission where SpaceX first flew their uncrewed Dragon capsule on a test flight to the International Space Station. It has since flown a number of important missions like that of Canada’s RADARSAT, and Sirius broadcastings SXM-7 radio satellite. It also has brought 469 of the 2335 total Starlink satellites launched to orbit.
Most recently this rocket was launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California back in December of last year, and we were unsure if/when we would ever see her fly again. The company obviously feels comfortable sending this booster up for another go and is most likely gathering data from these older rockets to establish a number of possible safe flights per booster. Tonight’s launch also turned us back to a Northeastern trajectory for Starlink missions, so the drone ship Just Read the Instructions was downrange in the Atlantic again, but far North of the Bahamas where the booster have recently been coming down.