SpaceX set to launch 21 Starlink satellites from California early Oct. 21

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is poised to launch 21 Starlink internet satellites to orbit from California early Saturday morning (Oct. 21).

The Falcon 9 is scheduled to lift off from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base on Saturday at 3:47 a.m. EDT (0747 GMT; 12:47 a.m. local California time). If SpaceX cannot hit that target, there are three backup opportunities available between 4:23 a.m. EDT and 6:00 a.m. EDT (0823 to 1000 GMT).

SpaceX will webcast the launch via its account on X (formerly known as Twitter). Coverage will start about five minutes before liftoff. 

If all goes according to plan on Saturday morning, the Falcon 9’s first stage will come back to Earth safely, touching down at sea on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You about 8.5 minutes after launch. 

It will be the 16th flight for this particular rocket’s first stage, according to a SpaceX mission description.  That’s one shy of the company’s reuse record, which was set last month.

The 21 Starlink satellites, meanwhile, are scheduled to deploy from the Falcon 9’s upper stage about 62.5 minutes after launch.


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The liftoff will be the 75th orbital mission for SpaceX in 2023. The company is aiming for 100 flights by the end of this year and 144 in 2024. 

About 60% of this year’s flights have been dedicated to building out Starlink, SpaceX’s internet megaconstellation. Starlink currently consists of nearly 4,900 operational satellites, and that number will continue to grow far into the future.


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