A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket prepares for liftoff from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on July 9, 2023.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket prepares for liftoff from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on July 9, 2023. (SpaceX)

(Tribune News Service) — SpaceX is keeping up its record pace for the year with another overnight Starlink launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station that would set a company record between launches from the same pad.

A Falcon 9 carrying 54 more of the company’s internet satellites is set to lift off from Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 40 at 12:40 a.m. Friday with a backup opportunity early Saturday at 12:15 a.m.

Space Launch Delta 45’s weather squadron’s forecast predicts an 85% chance for good launch conditions on both the primary and backup windows.

The booster for this mission is set to join the one used last Sunday as a record holder, aiming to fly for the 16th time and once again be recovered downrange on the droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas.

If it launches, it would be the quickest turnaround for SLC 40 ever coming only four days and 42 minutes since the launch last Sunday just before midnight. The previous record of five days, three hours and 38 minutes was set in February.

It would be the 35th launch from the Space Coast in 2023, also on pace to break a record for the pads at Canaveral and neighboring Kennedy Space Center.

The two facilities had 57 liftoffs among SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, Astra Space and NASA’s Space Launch System in 2022. It’s on pace for 64 launches for 2023 with 32 of the 34 so far coming from SpaceX with the other pair coming from startup Relativity Space with its 3D-printed Terran 1 rocket in March and last months’ ULA launch of the penultimate Delta IV Heavy.

Elon Musk’s company has also been busy on the West Coast so with this launch, Canaveral, KSC and Vandenberg Space Force Base will have made 47 orbital launches so far among its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets.

This is separate from its attempt to launch the massive Starship and Super Heavy from its Boca Chica, Texas facility Starbase.

For the year, Musk had said SpaceX could hit 100, with the majority coming from Cape Canaveral and KSC.

The majority of those are in support of the growing Starlink constellation, which with this batch will top 4,800 launched over 94 missions since the first operational deployment in 2019, according to statistics tracked by astronomer Jonathan McDowell. The Federal Communications Commission last year upped SpaceX’s license to allow for up to 7,500.

With this launch, SpaceX will have flown Falcon 9 successfully 238 times since 2010 with its lone in-flight failure back in 2015. It has also managed six Falcon Heavy launches since 2018 including two so far this year. The third is coming up targeting late July.

So with its initial two Falcon 1 launches in 2008 and 2009, SpaceX will have managed 246 successful orbital missions if this one is successful. And its booster program will have seen 207 recoveries among Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets allowing for 180 reflights.

©2023 Orlando Sentinel.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now