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SpaceX launches 54 Starlink satellites, ties record for first-stage returns
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SpaceX launches 54 Starlink satellites, ties record for first-stage returns
by Clyde Hughes
Washington DC (UPI) Jul 18, 2023

SpaceX launched its latest round of Starlink communication satellites from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida just before midnight Saturday.

The mission had been scrubbed Friday, with SpaceX saying a static fire of the rocket's main engines would need to be performed, giving a hint to a possible rocket hardware issue.

The Falcon 9 rocket's first stage, which launched the 54 satellites, safely returned to Earth, touching down on the SpaceX drone ship A Shortfall of Gravitas, marking a record-tying 16th safe launch and landing of the rocket's booster.

The first stage of another Falcon 9 rocket launched on July 9 also landed safely on Earth for the 16th time, setting a record for the company. Saturday's launch tied that record.

The return of Saturday's first stage marked the 207th time SpaceX has safely returned the first stage, SpaceX components engineer Zachary Luppen said on a live webcast.

There was no reason initially given for the Friday scrub. However, Atticus Vadera, host during the webcast, said both the launch vehicle and the payload "are in good health."

"There are a thousand ways to launch a rocket and only one way that it can go right," he said Friday. "So, given that, we are overly cautious on the ground, and if the team or the vehicle sees anything that looks just even slightly off, we will stop the count."

The mission launched the final batch of Starlink's v1.5 satellites into low-Earth orbit. The v1.5 orbitals account for 67% of all satellites in Starlink's constellation, according to SpaceX.

Source: United Press International

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