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SpaceX launches 3rd Starlink mission in under a week


SpaceX launched its third Starlink mission in five days. This launch occurred May 18, 2022. Credit Theresa Cross / Spaceflight Insider

In less than a week, SpaceX orbited three batches of Starlink satellites, one from each of its launch pads on both coasts of the United States.

At 6:59 a.m. EDT (10:59 UTC) May 18, 2022, the company lofted 53 satellites into low Earth orbit from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This flight utilized Falcon 9 first stage core B1052, which was on its fifth flight.

Just four days earlier at 4:40 p.m. (20:40 UTC) May 14, a Falcon 9 with a brand new first stage, core B 1073, sent 53 satellites into space from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, located less than 4 miles (6 kilometers) to the south.

Finally, at 6:07 p.m. (22:07 UTC) May 13, a Falcon 9 took to the skies from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. That mission also carried 53 Starlink satellites into orbit. It utilized the first stage core B1063, which was on its fifth use.

All three first stage boosters were recovered by SpaceX’s fleet of three drone ships: Of Course I Still Love You on the West Coast, and Just Read the Instructions and A Shortfall of Gravitas on the East Coast.

The three flights increase the total number of Starlink satellites launched to low Earth orbit to 2,653, of which nearly 2,400 are still operational and orbiting as part of SpaceX’s internet constellation, according to a list compiled by astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell.

Falcon 9 first stage core B1073 is one of the rare new boosters SpaceX has flown as of late. Three additional new boosters are expected to fly as early as August when the company launches a Falcon Heavy with NASA’s Psyche asteroid mission.

Its two side boosters, core B1072 and B1075 are planned to be recovered on the two East Coast drone ships while the new center core, B1074, is expected to be expended.

Psyche is slated to launch as early as Aug. 1, 2022, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

The May 18, 2022, Falcon 9 launch with 53 Starlink satellites. Credit Theresa Cross / Spaceflight Insider

The May 18, 2022, Falcon 9 launch with 53 Starlink satellites. Credit Theresa Cross / Spaceflight Insider

The May 18, 2022, Falcon 9 launch with 53 Starlink satellites. Credit Theresa Cross / Spaceflight Insider

The May 18, 2022, Falcon 9 launch with 53 Starlink satellites. Credit Theresa Cross / Spaceflight Insider

The May 18, 2022, Falcon 9 launch with 53 Starlink satellites. Credit Theresa Cross / Spaceflight Insider

The May 18, 2022, Falcon 9 launch with 53 Starlink satellites. Credit Theresa Cross / Spaceflight Insider

Video courtesy of SpaceX

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Theresa Cross grew up on the Space Coast. It’s only natural that she would develop a passion for anything “Space” and its exploration. During these formative years, she also discovered that she possessed a talent and love for defining the unique quirks and intricacies that exist in mankind, nature, and machines.

Hailing from a family of photographers—including her father and her son, Theresa herself started documenting her world through pictures at a very early age. As an adult, she now exhibits an innate photographic ability to combine what appeals to her heart and her love of technology to deliver a diversified approach to her work and artistic presentations.

Theresa has a background in water chemistry, fluid dynamics, and industrial utility.

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