SpaceX takes Off from California with 20 Starlink Satellites

SpaceX ended a 10-day gap in spaceflight operations on Tuesday night (June 18) with the launch of another batch of its Starlink broadband satellites from California.

At 11:40 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, June 19, 00:40 GMT, a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 20 Starlink satellites, 13 of which had direct-to-cell capability, took out from Vandenberg Space Force Base.

The first stage of the Falcon 9 landed on the SpaceX droneship Of Course I Still Love You, which was positioned in the Pacific Ocean, approximately 8.5 minutes later.

A SpaceX mission description states that this was the booster’s fifth launch and landing.

The 20 satellites were being transported by the Falcon 9’s upper stage toward low Earth orbit, where their deployment is planned to occur approximately one hour following liftoff. In the Starlink megaconstellation, the next batch will join more than 6,000 operating satellites.

SpaceX launched its 61st orbital flight of the year on Tuesday night, but it was the company’s first since June 8. For all operators but SpaceX, which is averaging a launch every 2.8 days in 2024, that wouldn’t even be considered a pause.

SpaceX was scheduled to launch Starlink as the second half of a spaceflight doubleheader on Tuesday. However, strong winds close to the launch site, the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, forced the cancellation of the first leg, the Astra 1P telecom satellite launch for the Luxembourg-based business SES.