SpaceX’s Launch on the Space Coast for SES Satellites and Starship Update
Over the weekend, SpaceX contributed to the Space Coast’s increasing number of launches this year with a mesmerizing Sunday night liftoff. The company is now preparing for a potential second attempt to send its cutting-edge Starship and Super Heavy rocket on an orbital test flight later this week.
On Sunday, a Falcon 9 rocket took off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Base’s Space Launch Complex 40 at 4:08 p.m. The purpose of this launch was to propel a pair of satellites for Luxembourg-based SES into orbit.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 12, 2023
This marks the third time SpaceX has launched SES’s O3b mPOWER satellites, which are destined for medium-Earth orbit. SES aims to deploy 11 such satellites to improve connectivity in remote areas.
The “O3b” in the satellite name symbolizes the “other 3 billion” – the global population lacking infrastructure access present in more urban locales. On the other hand, the mPOWER satellites represent the next-generation constellation of Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites used by companies like Princess Cruises.
This mission also made history by logging the ninth flight for the first-stage booster, which safely landed on the droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas in the Atlantic.
So far this year, the Space Coast has witnessed 63 rocket launches, with SpaceX responsible for all but four. Additionally, SpaceX has conducted 24 missions in California, resulting in a total of 83 successful orbital launches in 2023.
Looking ahead, SpaceX is readying for its next endeavor – an orbital test flight of Starship and Super Heavy, set to occur as early as Friday pending final regulatory approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Starship preparing to launch as early as November 17, pending final regulatory approval → pic.com/bJFjLCiTbK
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 11, 2023
SpaceX plans to live stream the test approximately 30 minutes before liftoff. The company acknowledges the dynamic nature of developmental testing schedules and potential changes.
Starship, set to replace SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, aims to surpass its initial attempt by achieving orbit. CEO Elon Musk expressed optimism for this next flight, highlighting numerous changes that increase the likelihood of success.
If successful, Starship would establish a new industry record for thrust, surpassing NASA’s Space Launch System. The mission’s goal is to reach a significant altitude and land near Hawaii.
Despite past challenges, SpaceX’s innovative steps toward creating a fully reusable rocket are evident, with plans for Super Heavy booster and Starship landings following orbital flights.
Notably, NASA has a vested interest in SpaceX’s Starship as it plays a vital role in the Artemis program and future human missions to the moon. However, a successful uncrewed landing would precede astronauts’ involvement in the program.
For SpaceX, its goals extend beyond NASA missions, as plans include numerous operational launches of Starship ahead of any crewed missions, emphasizing the company’s significant strides in commercial human spaceflight.