SpaceX ends Space Coast launch lull with late-night Falcon 9 mission
Orlando Sentinel December 19, 2023
(Tribune News Service) — SpaceX may have delayed its Falcon Heavy launch until after Christmas, but the skies cleared for a Falcon 9 launch in the meantime on the Space Coast.
The Starlink 6-34 mission sent up 23 more of Elon Musk’s satellites to SpaceX’s growing internet constellation, lifting off at 11:01 p.m. in crisp, cool skies blazing a trail on a southerly trajectory down Florida’s coast from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40.
The first-stage booster made its third flight with a recovery landing downrange on the droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas in the Atlantic Ocean.
The launch had already endured a series of weather delays along with SpaceX begging off one chance by prioritizing the Falcon Heavy launch for the Space Force last week. It marked the second longest run of the year without a launch on the Space Coast, just shy of 12 full days between launches.
It became the 69th for the year among all launch providers, with SpaceX responsible for all but four of those launches with United Launch Alliance managing three and Relativity Space a single launch. The cadence passed the previous record of 57 launches in 2022 back in October.
SpaceX had just one longer run between launches back during more than a 12-day gap from April 7-19, but the rest of the year has averaged more than one launch per week including three days that saw two launches — one from Kennedy Space Center and one from Canaveral — on the same calendar day.
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