Science & Technology



SpaceX launch from Florida tonight to mark record turnaround, record booster flight

Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel on

Published in Science & Technology News

If SpaceX manages a Starlink launch from Cape Canaveral tonight, it will come less than three days since the last rocket blasted off from the same launch pad, setting a new turnaround record while using a first-stage booster for a record-setting 20th flight.

A Falcon 9 carrying 23 more of SpaceX’s Starlink internet satellites is set to lift off from Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 40 targeting 9:22 p.m., during a four-hour window that runs until 1 a.m. with a backup window Saturday that begins at 9:04 p.m.

Space Launch Delta 45’s weather squadron forecasts greater than 95% chance for good conditions both tonight and Saturday.

SLC-40 was used for the last Starlink launch that came at 1:40 a.m. Wednesday, so if the rocket goes up on time tonight, it would come only two days, 19 hours, 44 minutes after, besting the previous record by nearly 26 hours.

The previous record was set from two launches from SLC-40 on Aug. 3 and Aug. 6 separated by three days, 21 hours, 41 minutes.

The first-stage booster would be the first for SpaceX to fly 20 times, having previously flown on two human spaceflight missions — Inspiration4 and Axioms Space’s Ax-1 — as well as the GPS III Space Vehicle 04, GPS III Space Vehicle 05, Nilesat 301, OneWeb Launch 17, ARABSAT BADR-8 and 12 Starlink missions.

Its first flight was on Nov. 20, 2020.

Its one of three active boosters sitting on 19 launches. A previous booster that successfully flew 19 times toppled over ‘on its way back to Port Canaveral during rough seas.


SpaceX will attempt the record recovery downrange in the Atlantic on its droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas.

To date, SpaceX has made 296 successful booster recoveries from both Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches, with the first coming in December 2015. It has reflown boosters 266 times. It has not had a failed booster landing since February 2021.

This marks the 27th flight from the Space Coast in 2024, with all but two coming from SpaceX, in what could be more than 100 launches among all companies for the year. United Launch Alliance has flown the other two with its new Vulcan Centaur rocket in January and the final Delta IV Heavy mission earlier this week. The year could also see the first ever launch of Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket.

But SpaceX is the launch leader, and the faster turnaround time at Canaveral is part of Elon Musk’s target to hit 148 flights in 2024 from all of its Florida and California launch pads for its Falcon rockets.

This would be SpaceX’s 38th mission of the year among those three pads while also having flown an orbital test mission of its in-development Starship and Super Heavy from its Texas launch facility Starbase.


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