Space X Falcon 9 rocket launches 23 Starlink satellites from Cape Canaveral

A Falcon 9 lifts off from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on the Starlink 6-34 mission. Image: Spaceflight Now.

SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Monday night after high winds kept the rocket grounded last week. Liftoff of the Falcon 9 with 23 Starlink satellites occurred at 11:01 p.m. EST (0401 UTC).

Blustery weather scrubbed a launch attempt last Tuesday and high seas in the recovery zone forced further delays for this mission but on Monday the winds had died down and the Falcon 9 lifted off into a chilly Florida night sky.

After lifting off from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, the Falcon 9 will head south-easterly targeting an orbit inclined 43 degrees to the Equator. Its nine Merlin 1D engines will fire for nearly two and a half minutes before the first stage separates from the second stage. The first-stage booster will continue downrange to land on the drone ship ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas’ in the Atlantic Ocean, east of the Bahamas.

The Falcon 9 booster for Monday’s Starlink 6-34 mission, tail number B1081, was making its third flight. It previously flew two missions for NASA carrying Dragon Endurance in August with a four-member crew for the International Space Station and a Cargo Dragon on a space station resupply mission 32 days ago in November.

The rocket’s payload fairing halves were to land on parachutes a little further downrange from the drone ship and be scooped up by the support ship ‘Bob’, named after Crew Dragon Demo-2 astronaut Bob Behnken.

The single vacuum Merlin engine of the second stage fired for about six-minutes to reach a parking orbit. After coasting for about 45 minutes, the second-stage engine will re-ignite for a three-second burn to refine the orbit. Deployment of the 23 V2 Mini Starlink satellites followed one hour and five minutes after launch.