SpaceX pulled off a St. Patrick’s Day doubleheader Friday (March 17) with two orbital missions.
The program began at 3:26 pm EDT (1926 GMT), when SpaceX launched its 52 Starlink Internet satellites into orbit from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
Later, at 7:38 PM EDT (2338 GMT), Falcon 9 lifted off from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida carrying the SES-18 and SES-19 communications satellites.
Both missions went according to plan: the Starlink satellites were deployed into low Earth orbit (LEO) on schedule, and Falcon 9 successfully delivered SES-18 and SES-19 into geosynchronous transfer orbit.
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Both Falcon 9 first stages returned safely to Earth, landing in the ocean less than nine minutes after landing on the SpaceX droneships.
According to SpaceX, it was the eighth liftoff and touchdown for the Starlink-Lancing Falcon 9 and the sixth for the rocket that carried the SES-18 and SES-19.
52 Starlink satellites join More than 3,700 other spacecraft (opens in new tab) As for SpaceX’s massive broadband constellation, it will continue to grow in the future: Elon Musk’s company has received approval to deploy 12,000 Starlink satellites in LEO, and has applied for 30,000 more.
SES-18 and SES-19 went a long way. Both are headed for geostationary orbit about 22,200 miles (35,700 kilometers) from our planet. From that perch, they will provide digital broadcast coverage to North America, help Luxembourg-based SES roll out 5G services in the US, According to EverydayAstronaut.com (opens in new tab).
SpaceX already had Friday launches on the 18th and 19th of the year. The liftoffs will keep coming: Musk said last summer that SpaceX could launch 100 orbital missions by 2023.
By Mike Wall “outside (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelWall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).