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