SpaceX launches 23 Starlink satellites onboard Falcon 9 flight from Cape Canaveral

A Falcon 9 rocket streaks across the night sky above Florida on the Starlink 6-45 mission on March 30, 2024. Image: Michael Cain/Spaceflight Now

Update: Falcon 9 launched at 9:30 p.m. EDT (0130 UTC).

SpaceX followed the successful launch of a European television satellite with the first of a planned pair of its own Starlink missions from both Florida and California. The first Falcon 9 flight, Starlink 6-45, departed from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at pad 40 at 9:30 p.m. EDT (0130 UTC). This was the 20th Starlink mission of 2024.

Launch weather for the mission was about as ideal as it gets. The 45th Weather Squadron forecast a greater than 95 percent chance of favorable launch conditions, with the Thick Cloud Layers rule as the main watch item.

The Falcon 9 booster supporting the Starlink 6-45 mission, tail number B1067 in the SpaceX fleet, launch and landed for an 18th time. Image: Adam Bernstein/Spaceflight Now

The Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission, tail number B1067 in the SpaceX fleet, launched for an 18th time. It previously supported missions like the Crew-3 and Crew-4 flights to the International Space Station; the 22nd and 25th Commercial Resupply Services flights to the ISS; and eight Starlink missions.

About 8.5 minutes after liftoff, B1067 landed on the SpaceX droneship ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas.’ This was the 63rd landing for ASOG and the 290th booster landing to date.

According to astronomer and expert tracker of satellites, Jonathan McDowell, there are 5,677 Starlink satellites currently on orbit, out of the 6,079 total launched. The Starlink 6-45 mission added 23 more to those totals.

Earlier this week, SpaceX noted that Argentina became the 72nd country globally to allow the service to be accessed. On March 8, the company shared data it said shows the progress towards lowering its latency, “with the goal of [less than] 20 millisecond (ms) latency.”

“Over the past month, we have meaningfully reduced median and worst-case latency for users around the world. In the United States alone, we reduced median latency by more than 30 percent, from 48.5ms to 33ms during hours of peak usage,” SpaceX said in a statement. “Worst-case peak hour latency (p99) has dropped by over 60 percent, from over 150ms to less than 65ms. Outside of the United States, we have also reduced median latency by up to 25 percent and worst-case latencies by up to 35 percent.”