[Update: Launched!] SpaceX to launch their 22nd batch of Starlink satellites

On the heels of their last launch earlier this week, SpaceX is already planning to launch their next batch of 60 Starlink satellites into orbit as soon as this weekend. Starlink will provide worldwide high-speed internet through the use of thousands of satellites in low earth orbit.

Date: Sunday, March 14th, 6:01 AM EDT

Rocket: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 (B1051.9)

Payload: 60 Starlink Satellites

Launch Pad: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center

Landing Site: Of Course I Still Love You, Atlantic Ocean

The Rocket

Like all Starlink missions so far, Starlink L21 will launch on top of a Falcon 9 rocket powered by 9 Merlin engines on the first stage and a single vacuum optimized Merlin on the second stage. The workhorse for SpaceX since its first launch in 2010 it has launched 110 missions with a 98% success rate.

The Booster

Starlink L21’s booster, B1051, is SpaceX’s life-leading booster with 8 flights under its belt. This booster made its debut back in March of 2019 launching SpaceX’s first Demo mission of their Crew Dragon capsule. This was the first of three flight tests to certify the capsule for operational crewed flights, the first of which we saw fly in the fall of 2020.

Following that flight, it continued to launch more commercial missions and pushed its launch history with so far 5 Starlink missions. SpaceX has said that the Falcon 9 Block 5 variant will be able to launch 10 times before major refurbishment is needed and after many years of operations, SpaceX is finally getting close to meeting that milestone.

The Weather

Current weather conditions for Sunday’s early morning launch are looking very good with the only concern being cumulus clouds too close to the flight path. The probability of GO from the weather is still at 90% and these conditions are expected to be similar if tonight’s launch results in a 24-hour delay. If there is a delay, the probability is still at 90% that the weather is GO but with a storm system moving in over the Louisiana/Mississippi area, winds will increase. Overall conditions for booster recovery look great for B1051’s historic 9th landing on Of Course I Still Love You.

Terminal Count Updates

Sunday, March 14th, 6:01 AM: Liftoff!

Sunday, March 14th, 6:14 AM: B1051 lands successfully on droneship Of Course I Still Love You for the 9th time.

Sunday, March 14th, 7:09 AM: SpaceX deployed another batch of Starlink satellites to their designated orbit.

Video taken by Jenny Hautmann for Space Explored

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