SpaceX completes 300th Falcon booster landing during Starlink mission

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 40 on the Starlink 6-53 mission on April 23, 2024. Image: Adam Bernstein/Spaceflight Now

Update 7:32 p.m. EDT: SpaceX confirmed deployment of the 23 Starlink satellites.

SpaceX completed a Falcon 9 launch, highlighted by the company’s 300th booster landing to date. The Starlink 6-53 mission also marked the 30th orbital launch from Florida in 2024.

Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station happened at 6:17 p.m. EDT (2217 UTC). The 45th Weather Squadron forecast a greater than 95 percent chance of favorable weather at liftoff.

The Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission, tail number B1078, made its ninth launch on this flight. It previously launched NASA’s Crew-6 mission to the International Space Station, USSF-124 and five Starlink flights.

About eight and a half minutes after liftoff, B1078 landed on the SpaceX droneship, ‘Just Read the Instructions.’ In addition to this being the 300th Falcon booster landing overall, it was the 79th landing for JRTI and the 233rd droneship landing to date.

The 23 Starlink satellites onboard this mission add to the 5,851 currently on orbit, according to astronomer and expert orbital tracker, Jonathan McDowell. Prior to this mission, 610 Starlink satellites were launched to low Earth orbit in 2024 over 27 missions. Separation of the satellites is expected to occur an hour and five minutes into flight.