A SpaceX Falcon 9 launched another group of Starlink satellites as part of a mission that included two carpool payloads.
The Falcon 9 took off from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center. The first stage of the rocket, which was making its eighth launch dating from the Demo-2 trade mission nearly a year ago, landed on a “Of course I still love you” drone in the Atlantic.
The rocket’s main payload, 52 Starlink satellites, separated from the rocket’s upper stage 1 hour and 38 minutes after takeoff. The launch brings the total number of Starlink satellites in orbit to over 1,600. It was the fourth Falcon 9 launch of Starlink satellites in 17 days and the ninth Falcon 9 launch of Starlink satellites since early March.
SpaceX included two ride-sharing payloads on the rocket that were released from the top floor about an hour after takeoff. One was the latest in a series of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imaging satellites for Capella Space. The company launched two more SAR satellites on Transporter-1, a dedicated SpaceX Falcon 9 carpooling mission in January. The other was Tyvak-0130, a satellite built by Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems.
Following SpaceX’s on-time takeoff, NASA plans to launch a small sounding rocket from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
NASA has a 40-minute window to launch the mission, which has been repeatedly delayed. The experiment is designed to explore the transport of energy in space. The mission will study how energy and momentum are transported between areas of space that are magnetically connected.