SpaceX launches 81st Starlink mission, lands booster at sea
SpaceX successfully launches a Falcon 9 rocket, carrying 56 Starlink spacecraft, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, returning it to Earth less than nine minutes later, landing on the SpaceX drone ship, Just Read the Instructions, in the Atlantic Ocean. This was the 11th launch and landing for this Falcon 9 first stage booster, while Starlink Group 5-9 marks the 81st operation Starlink mission, boosting the total number of Starlink satellites launched to more than 4,400.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship pic.twitter.com/bYvC8sH9NX
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 14, 2023
Starship explodes four minutes into second test attempt
After being delayed from April 18, SpaceX makes a second attempt at launching Starship. After a short countdown hold at 40 seconds the spacecraft launches and clears the tower. Four minutes into the flight, at a height of 34km, the vehicle explodes, after the second stage fails to separate. Musk congratulates the team:
Congrats @SpaceX team on an exciting test launch of Starship! Learned a lot for next test launch in a few months.
Congrats @SpaceX team on an exciting test launch of Starship!
Learned a lot for next test launch in a few months. pic.twitter.com/gswdFut1dK
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 20, 2023
Starship launch scrubbed
The first Starship launch is scrubbed, ten minutes before launch, due to a pressurant valve being frozen. The countdown continues as a ‘wet dress rehearsal’, to T minus 40 seconds. Another launch attempt may happen in the next 48 hours.
A pressurant valve appears to be frozen, so unless it starts operating soon, no launch today
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 17, 2023
Musk ‘not saying’ Starship will get to orbit
SpaceX will debut its Starship vehicle in a month or so, but the chances of its first-ever orbital mission being a success are apparently only about 50%.
I’m not saying it will get to orbit, but I am guaranteeing excitement. So, won’t be boring!…So I think we’ve got, hopefully, about an 80% chance of reaching orbit this year. It’ll probably take us a couple more years to achieve full and rapid reusability.
According to Musk, Starship will be the most powerful rocket to ever fly, featuring about 2.5 times more thrust at liftoff than NASA’s Saturn V. SpaceX hopes that, among other things, Starship will get people and cargo to the moon and Mars. It is designed to be fully and rapidly reusable, which Musk considers the most important breakthrough for making Mars colonization and other ambitious exploration feats feasible.
Falcon 9 launches 52 Starlink satellites to orbit
SpaceX launches 52 Starlink satellites to orbit, on a Falcon 9 rocket. The launch was SpaceX’s 43rd orbital mission this year. Viewers close by the launchpad witnessed Falcon 9’s first stage falling back to Earth for a soft landing atop the SpaceX droneship, A Shortfall of Gravitas, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. The company has already sent nearly 3,400 Starlinks into space and has a plan to bring thousands more aloft.
Falcon 9 launches 52 Starlink satellites to orbit pic.twitter.com/A4eGu4lmz0
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 25, 2022