SpaceX pulls off Starlink 7-18 mission on fourth day of launch attempts

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off at sunset from Vandenberg Space Force Base on April 1, 2024. Image: SpaceX

Following three unsuccessful launch attempts at the end of March, SpaceX was able to pull off an April Fool’s Day Starlink launch.

The Starlink 7-18 mission launched at 7:30 p.m. PDT (10:30 EDT, 0230 UTC) from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E). This was the 11th launch from the Western Range in 2024.

The launch with a batch of 22 of its Starlink satellites on board ran into poor weather on the previous two attempts. SpaceX didn’t state why they scrubbed on Thursday.

This will be the 15th flight for the first stage booster supporting this mission, tail number B1071 in the SpaceX fleet. It previously launched two SmallSat Transporter rideshare mission, a pair of missions for the National Reconnaissance Office and NASA’s ocean-observing SWOT payload among others.

Following liftoff from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E), B1071 landed on the SpaceX droneship, ‘Of Course I Still Love You,’ a little more than eight minutes into flight. This marked the 87th landing on OCISLY and the 291st booster landing to date.

SpaceX deployed the Starlink satellites about an hour after launch from the Golden State. This mission was the 21st Starlink flight in 2024, adding to the more than 6,100 Starlinks launched to date.

According to astronomer and expert tracker, Jonathan McDowell, there are currently 5,700 Starlink satellites currently on orbit.