SpaceX launches two rockets from two coasts in Starlink doubleheader

SpaceX launches two rockets from two coasts in Starlink doubleheader
A bright streak follows the path a spacex falcon 9 rocket followed to climb into space (at left) and a black and white spacex falcon 9 rocket launches into a night sky.

SpaceX launched two more batches of its Starlink internet satellites overnight (Jan. 28-29), on doubleheader liftoffs from both U.S. coasts.

A Falcon 9 rocket topped with 23 Starlink spacecraft launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida on Sunday (Jan. 28) at 6:15 p.m. EST (2315 GMT).

Another Falcon 9 carried 22 more Starlinks skyward from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Monday at 12:57 a.m. EST (9:57 p.m. local time, and 0557 GMT).

Related: Starlink satellite train: How to see and track it in the night sky

Two different views of black and white spacex falcon 9 rockets standing on droneships after landing.

Two different views of black and white spacex falcon 9 rockets standing on droneships after landing.Dual views of SpaceX Falcon 9 first stages after they landed on droneships stationed in the Atlantic (at left) and Pacific oceans on Sunday and Monday, Jan. 28-29, 2024. (Image credit: SpaceX via X)

As expected, both Falcon 9’s first stages came back to Earth about 8.5 minutes after liftoff for a landing on a SpaceX drone ship stationed at sea.

It was the 18th launch and landing for the booster flying from KSC and was the ninth for the one launching from Vandenberg, according to SpaceX. The company’s reuse record is 19 launches, set by a Falcon 9 just last month.

The Falcon 9 upper stages, meanwhile, continued climbing into low Earth orbit to deploy each batch of Starlink satellites a little over an hour after their liftoffs.

RELATED STORIES:

— SpaceX rocket launches Starlink satellites on record-breaking 17th flight (video)

— 8 ways that SpaceX has transformed spaceflight

— SpaceX launches private Ax-3 mission to ISS, 1st Turkish astronaut on board

These were already the eighth and ninth launches of the year for SpaceX, which has said it’s aiming for 144 orbital missions in 2024.

In keeping with that ambitious plan, there’s another SpaceX mission right around the corner: A Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch Northrop Grumman’s robotic Cygnus cargo craft toward the International Space Station on Tuesday (Jan. 30).

Sunday’s Starlink doubleheader began on a somber anniversary. On Jan. 28, 1986, NASA’s space shuttle Challenger broke apart less than two minutes after liftoff, killing all seven astronauts on board.