SpaceX, the private aerospace company founded by Elon Musk, has announced that it is preparing to launch two consecutive Starlink missions this week. The first mission, called Starlink Group 7-2, is scheduled to take place on Monday, September 11th, and will launch 21 satellites to low-Earth orbit from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. Following closely behind is the second mission, Starlink Group 6-16, which is set to launch 22 satellites from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on September 14th.
This double launch comes as part of SpaceX’s ambitious plan to increase their launch frequency. The Starlink Group 7-2 mission will be the 51st launch from SLC-4E and boasts the second-quickest turnaround time of the pad at just nine days, 16 hours, and 31 minutes. SpaceX aims to launch 10 times per month by the end of 2023 and increase that number to 12 times per month in 2024.
In order to reach their goal of 144 launches, SpaceX will need to reduce turnaround times even further. Currently, SLC-40 has been rapidly increasing its launch cadence, with an average of five to six days between missions. To match this cadence, SpaceX will utilize the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship to support quicker launches.
The booster for the Starlink Group 7-2 mission has already been used in 10 previous missions and will attempt to land on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship after liftoff. This showcases SpaceX’s commitment to the reuse and reusability of their rockets.
The 21 Starlink satellites on the Starlink Group 7-2 mission will be deployed into low-Earth orbit and utilize argon thrusters to raise their orbit over the coming weeks. SpaceX has already launched over 5,000 Starlink satellites, with 4,724 currently in orbit and 4,692 actively functioning.
The Starlink Group 7-2 mission will mark SpaceX’s 255th Falcon 9 launch and the 65th of this year. Following soon after will be the Starlink Group 6-16 mission, which aims to deploy an additional 22 satellites into low-Earth orbit.
Overall, these consecutive Starlink missions represent another significant step forward for SpaceX as they continue to revolutionize the space industry through their innovative technology and frequent rocket launches.