SpaceX completes 40th Falcon 9 launch of the year with Starlink mission

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket supporting the Starlink 6-52 mission transits the Moon moments before Main Engine Cut-off (MECO). Image: Michael Cain/Spaceflight Now

SpaceX completed its 40 Falcon 9 mission of the year with a launch from the Cape. The Starlink 6-52 mission added 23 more satellites to the growing low Earth orbit constellation.

Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station happened at 6:40 p.m. EDT (2240 UTC), the opening of a nearly four-hour window. The 45th Weather Squadron forecast a 90 percent chance of favorable conditions heading into launch.

A Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 40 on Thursday, April 18, 2024, on the Starlink 6-52 mission. Image: Adam Bernstein/Spaceflight Now

The Falcon 9 first stage booster for this mission, tail number B1080, made its seventh flight on this mission. It previously flew the Ax-2 and Ax-3 private astronaut missions on behalf of Axiom Space in addition to launching the Euclid observatory for the European Space Agency.

A little more than eight minutes after liftoff, B1080 landed on the SpaceX droneship, ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas.’ This was the 66th landing on ASOG and the 299th Falcon booster landing to date.

The 23 Starlink satellites were deployed a little more than an hour prior to liftoff.