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SpaceX aces double launch of 46 Starlink satellites under 6 hours

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Shillong, March 11: Elon Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX on Monday aced double launches of 46 Starlink internet satellites in low-Earth orbit — all under just six hours.

The satellites lifted onboard the company’s reusable, two-stage Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, the company said, in a statement.

The first set of 23 satellites lifted off at 4:35 am on Monday (India time).

“This was the 11th flight for the first stage booster supporting this mission, which previously launched Crew-5, GPS III Space Vehicle 06, Inmarsat I6-F2, CRS-28, Intelsat G-37, NG-20, and now five Starlink missions,” it added.

About 8.5 minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9’s first stage came back to Earth and made a vertical landing on the SpaceX drone ship “Just Read the Instructions,” which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

“Deployment of 23 @Starlink satellites confirmed,” SpaceX said in a tweet, an hour after the launch.

The second set of 23 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit liftoff at 9:39 am (India time).

“This is the 17th flight for the first stage booster supporting this mission, which previously launched Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, DART, Transporter-7, Iridium OneWeb, SDA-0B, and 11 Starlink missions,” the company said.

Following stage separation, the first stage will land on the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ droneship, which will be stationed in the Pacific Ocean.

Last week, SpaceX launched 23 Starlink internet satellites.

The company currently has over 5,000 working Starlink satellites in orbit, and it has approval to launch up to 12,000.

SpaceX has launched 22 orbital missions already this year, but several more are in the offing: The company intends to launch 144 times in 2024. (IANS)

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