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SpaceX Falcon 9 launches 22 Starlink satellites from California

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A Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California carrying 22 Starlink satellites on Nov 20, 2023. Image: Space X.

SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 from the West Coast with another batch of 22 Starlink satellites at 2:30 a.m. PST Monday (5:30 a.m. EST / 1030 UTC).

On this 55th Starlink delivery mission of the year, the Falcon 9 headed in a south-easterly direction after lifting off from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California targeting a 183×178 mile (295×286 km) orbit, inclined at 53 degrees to the equator.

It was the second time SpaceX had fueled this Falcon 9. Early Sunday morning, a countdown for the Falcon 9 was halted with just minutes left on the clock. SpaceX said it was "standing down" in a social media post about seven minutes after the planned liftoff time. It did not provide a reason for the aborted launch attempt. The Starlink 7-7 mission had already been delayed by a day. This latest attempt has been repeatedly pushed back from the original launch time of 10:33 p.m. PST and is now targeting the last launch opportunity of the night.

The first stage booster, making its 15th flight, previously launched the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, DART, Transporter-7, Iridium OneWeb and the Space Development Agency Tranche 0B missions. Plus nine previous Starlink delivery missions. After completing its burn, the first stage landed on the drone ship 'Of Course I still Love You' stationed about 400 miles downrange (644km) in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California.

SpaceX first-stage booster B1063 after landing on the drone ship at the conclusion of its 15th flight. Image: SpaceX.

Deployment of the 22 V2 Mini Starlink satellites occurred* just over an hour after launch and was confirmed by SpaceX in a social media post. The V2 Mini model was introduced earlier this year and is much larger than the V1.5 satellites. Equipped with upgraded antennae and larger solar panels, the latest models can delivery four times the bandwidth of the previous satellites.

SpaceX recently announced it had signed up over two million subscribers in more than 60 countries for its Starlink internet service. Prior to Monday's launch it had launched 5,445 satellites, of which 5,078 remained in orbit, according to statistics compiled as of Nov. 18 by Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who maintains a space flight database.

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