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SpaceX knocks out 3 launches in 20 hours topped with foggy Cape Canaveral mission

Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel on

Published in Science & Technology News

SpaceX kept its assembly line approach to launching rockets alive and strong Monday with successful missions from both Cape Canaveral and California launched less than 20 hours since sending up four humans to space from Kennedy Space Center.

Topping off the day from the Space Coast amid a blanket of fog was the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket with 23 of SpaceX’s Starlink internet satellites taking off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40 at 6:56 p.m.

The first-stage booster flew for the 13th time with a recovery landing downrange in the Atlantic on the droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas.

This marked the 15th launch from the Space Coast in 2024, with all but one coming from SpaceX.

Just over 20 hours earlier, SpaceX began its busy run with the launch of the Crew-8 mission launching four aboard the Crew Dragon Endeavour at 10:53 p.m. Sunday from KSC’s Launch Pad 39-A, the second human spaceflight of the year for SpaceX following January’s Axiom Space Ax-3 mission.

That success set the stage for two launches Monday evening, with SpaceX switching focus to the west coast, where it successfully launched from California, sending up the Transporter-10 mission from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base at 5:05 p.m. The mission was the 10th dedicated rideshare mission for SpaceX, carrying 53 payloads for a variety of customers.

Its booster flew for the fifth time, landing back at the Space Force base recovery site.

Across both Florida and California launch pads, SpaceX has now managed 22 launches in 64 days, better than one launch every three days, during a year in which Elon Musk said the company could see as many as 150.

 

It’s also gearing up to send up the third test flight of its Starship and Super Heavy from its Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas.

“Starship Flight 3 preparing for launch,” Musk posted on Twitter after SpaceX spent Sunday evening running through a wet dress rehearsal filling the rocket with 10 million pounds of propellant.

SpaceX is awaiting the OK from the Federal Aviation Administration before it can set up a target launch date for the massive rocket.

The first two test flights in 2023 ended explosively, but the FAA last month cleared the path for the third test flight to move forward by closing the latest launch mishap investigation.

Starship is the company’s replacement rocket for its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy fleet, one that would be completely reusable, with both the Super Heavy booster and Starship upper stage capable of vertical recovery landings.

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