SpaceX completes Tuesday Starlink launch after Memorial Day scrub

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 40 on the Starlink 6-60 mission on May 28, 2024. Image: Adam Bernstein/Spaceflight Now

Update 10:54 a.m. EDT: SpaceX launches Starlink mission.

SpaceX scrubbed a Memorial Day morning Falcon 9 launch shortly before 11 a.m. EDT (1500 UTC). The company did not state a reason for the delay, but they didn’t bring the rocket to a vertical position until after 6 a.m. EDT (1000 UTC) and there’s typically about 4.5 hours between that moment and launch at minimum.

The Starlink 6-60 mission will add another 23 spacecraft to the company’s growing mega-constellation of internet relay satellites, serving more than three million customers. SpaceX launched the Falcon 9 rocket at 10:24 a.m. EDT (1424 UTC) from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Tuesday.

The Falcon 9 first stage booster, tail number B1078 in the SpaceX fleet, launched for a 10th time. Its previous launches included the Crew-6 astronaut mission to the International Space Station; USSF-124, the second SpaceX mission under the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Phase 2 contract; and six Starlink missions.

A little more than eight minutes after liftoff, B1078 touched down on the SpaceX droneship, ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas.’ It marked the 72nd booster landing for ASOG and the 313th booster landing for SpaceX to date.

The mission was also SpaceX’s 55th Falcon 9 launch of the year, which brings the company up to a launch rate of a Falcon flight roughly every 2.7 days on average. At this pace, they would launch 135 times by the end of the year, approaching the 144 launch goal laid out by Bill Gerstenmaier during his testimony in front of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee in October 2023.

However, the pace has been picking up as the year goes on as evidenced by the number of launches per month:

  • January – 10
  • February – 9
  • March – 12
  • April – 12
  • May – 11 (as of May 23)

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Kiko Dontchev, the vice president of Launch for SpaceX, stated that they have the potential to hit 14 launches before the close of May.

Later on Tuesday, SpaceX is poised to launch the European Space Agency’s Earth Cloud Aerosol and Radiation Explorer (EarthCARE) satellite to a sun-synchronous polar orbit. A 14th Falcon 9 launch would more than likely be another Starlink flight from Florida.

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