SpaceX launches 50th Falcon 9 rocket of 2024 on Starlink mission

SpaceX launches its 50th Falcon 9 rocket of 2024 in support of the Starlink 8-7 mission. Image: SpaceX

SpaceX continues to expand its Starlink constellation that offer Direct to Cell capability through its Falcon 9 launch on Tuesday. There were 13 Direct to Cell-capable Starlink satellites among the 20 that launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base. 

Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) happened at 11:39 a.m. PDT (2:39 p.m. EDT, 1839 UTC). This was the 16th launch from VSFB this year, more than half of the total number of launches from Vandenberg in 2023.


The first stage booster supporting this mission, tail number B1063 in the SpaceX fleet, launched for an 18th time. It previously launched NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft, the Transporter-7 rideshare and 12 Starlink missions among others.

About 8.5 minutes after liftoff, B1063 touched down on the SpaceX droneship ‘Of Course I Still Love You.’ This was the 90th booster landing for OCISLY and the 308th Falcon landing to date.

Following the most recent Starlink mission, which launched on Sunday, SpaceX noted that the Starlink constellation fared well amid high solar activity that came as a result of the geomagnetic storm.

Michael Nicolls, the vice president of Starlink engineering, went into a bit more detail about what the constellation weathered over the weekend in a social media post.

Tuesday’s launch was the 35th dedicated Starlink launch in 2024. Prior to the launch of the Starlink 8-7 mission, SpaceX launched 768 Starlink satellites this year.

According to the most recent numbers published by expert orbital tracker and astronomer Jonathan McDowell on Sunday, there were 5,923 Starlink satellites in operation on orbit.