SpaceX launches Falcon 9 rocket on sunset Starlink flight from Vandenberg Space Force Base

File photo of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at pad 4E ready to launch a Starlink mission. Image: SpaceX

SpaceX kicked off another busy week following the third test flight of its Starship rocket on Thursday and three Falcon 9 missions. The company notched a Monday launch with 22 Starlink satellites from its pad at Vandenberg Space Force Base.

The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off on the Starlink 7-16 mission from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at 7:28 p.m. PT (1028 p.m. ET, 0228 UTC).

The Falcon 9 first stage booster being used on this flight, tail number B1075 in the SpaceX fleet, launched for a 10th time. It previously launched two missions for the U.S. Space Development Agency as well as seven other Starlink missions.

A little more than eight minutes after liftoff, B1075 landed on the SpaceX droneship, ‘Of Course I Still Love You.’ It was the 86th landing on OCISLY and the 285th SpaceX booster landing to date.

While this mission is in work, SpaceX and NASA are also preparing to launch a Cargo Dragon from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. This will be the 30th flight under SpaceX’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA to fly cargo and science up to the orbiting outpost.

This mission is also distinct in that it will be the first time a second-generation Dragon spacecraft will launch to the International Space Station from SLC-40. The very first Dragon capsule launched aboard the inaugural Falcon 9 rocket from the pad in 2010, but operations switched to pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center after the first generation Dragon was retired following the CRS-20 mission in March 2020.