SpaceX has completed its 21st Falcon 9 launch of 2022, continuing an impressive average cadence of more than one launch per week.
After an unexplained 40-minute delay from 6:20 am EDT, the former Falcon Heavy booster B1052 lifted off from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A shortly after sunrise at 6:59 am EDT (10:59 UTC) on Wednesday, May 18th. Carrying its second batch of Starlink satellites on its third mission as a Falcon 9 boosters and fifth launch overall, Falcon B1052 performed flawlessly, safely carrying a reused Falcon fairing, expendable upper stage, and stack of 53 Starlink satellites most of the free way of Earth’s atmosphere.
B1052 then separated and coasted back to Earth as Falcon 9’s upper stage continued to orbit. About nine minutes after liftoff, the booster touched down on the drone ship A Shortfall of Gravitas (ASOG) and the upper stage reached a safe parking orbit, marking the premature end of SpaceX’s official webcast. Starlink satellite deployment – typically anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes after liftoff – now occurs off-camera, with only a slight vocal confirmation and a tweet from SpaceX to verify the most important part of each mission.