SpaceX was simultaneously busy both at Starbase, Texas and the Space Launch Complex (SLC-40), Florida this week with Starship and Starlink activities respectively.
Elon Musk’s space exploration company launched another set of 54 Starlink satellites from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station SLC-40 launch pad on a Falcon 9 rocket.
At Starbase, SpaceX re-stacked Starship 24 (SN24) onto the Super Heavy Booster 7 for the 2nd time after fully stacking both of these prototypes for the first time on Tuesday 11th October 2022.
54 Starlink Satellites Launched
Thursday’s launch of 54 Starlink satellites to the low Earth orbit (LEO) was SpaceX’s 48th Starlink launch of this year and overall the 100th successful launch from the SLC-40 launch pad.
It was the 10th successful flight of this specific Falcon 9 booster with 5 Starlink launches under its belt along with GPS III Space Vehicle 04, GPS III Space Vehicle 05, Inspiration4, Ax-1, and Nilesat 301 missions.
With this launch, SpaceX has sent a total of 3,347 Starlink internet satellites into space out of which 3,033 are currently working.
During the live stream video, the SpaceX engineer described what are the white clouds around the 1st and 2nd stages of the Falcon 9.
When Falcon 9 is getting filled with super cold cryogenic liquid oxygen (LOX) propellant, the moist air around the rocket forms these clouds. The condensation of moisture due to extreme cold temperatures around the fuel tanks of both the 1st and 2nd stage triggers the formation of white clouds around the rocket.
After deploying 54 Starlink satellites, the Falcon 9 first stage successfully landed on the droneship named A Shortfall of Gravitas. Answering a question by a SpaceX enthusiast, Elon Musk confirmed that he personally names the droneships himself.
Starship 24 destacked and re-stacked
After stacking Starship 24 and Booster 7 for the first time last week, SpaceX destacked both of these huge components after performing the required tests. The destacking was most probably performed after detecting potential problems with the setup.
Starship 24 was lifted off Booster 7 and put on the side held with the Mechazilla Chopsticks as SpaceX engineers performed fixes and tasks.
Last week, we believed it was the final time that SpaceX has fully-stacked Starship 24 and Booster 7 as Elon Musk had predicted the 1st orbital flight test in November.
But SpaceX had to destack (disassemble) Starship 24 and it is now again fully stacked. This might be the last time before the orbital launch test but no one knows for sure at the moment.
Interestingly, SpaceX lifted both Starship 24 and Starship 25 (SN25) almost simultaneously. Starship 25 was lifted with a crane onto the Suborbital Launch Pad A for cryogenic proof testing. While SN24 was lifted onto the Booster 7 for full stacking using the Chopstick arms (watch below).
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