SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching Starlink satellites on record 21st flight tonight

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is set to launch for the 21st time tonight (May 17), setting a new reusability record for the company.

The Falcon 9 is scheduled to lift off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station during a three-hour window that opens at 8:32 p.m. EDT (0032 GMT on May 18), sending 23 of SpaceX’s Starlink internet satellites to orbit.

SpaceX will stream the launch live via its X account, beginning about five minutes before the window opens.

Related: Starlink satellite train: How to see and track it in the night sky

If all goes according to plan, the Falcon 9’s first stage will come back to Earth about 8.5 minutes after it liftoff, touching down on the drone ship A Shortfall of Gravitas, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

It will be the 21st launch and landing for this particular booster, according to a SpaceX mission description. That will set a new record, which may well be tied multiple times in the near future; two other Falcon 9 first stages also have 20 flights under their belts.

The Falcon 9’s upper stage, meanwhile, will continue carrying the 23 Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit tonight, deploying them there about 65 minutes after liftoff.


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Tonight’s liftoff will be the 51st orbital mission of 2024 already for SpaceX, which aims to launch about 150 times before the year is out.

Thirty-five of SpaceX’s 50 orbital launches in 2024 to date have been devoted to building out the Starlink broadband megaconstellation, which currently consists of more than 5,900 operational satellites.

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