Hawthorne-based SpaceX launch sets off show in skies over Southern California

by 24USATVApril 2, 2024, 10:40 a.m. 21
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After a handful of postponements, Hawthorne-based SpaceX enjoyed a successful launch Monday, April 1, of a Falcon 9 carrying 22 Starlink satellites at Vandenberg Space Force Base in Santa Barbara County.

The rocket lifted off at 7:30 p.m., marking the 15th flight for the mission’s first-stage booster, which returned to Earth and landed successfully on SpaceX’s Of Course I Still Love You drone ship, stationed offshore.

The trail of the rocket could seen in the sunset skies around Southern California, including over Dodger Stadium where the Blue Crew’s game with the San Francisco Giants was just starting.

The launch was originally scheduled Thursday but the mission was postponed multiple times amid dicey weather in the West.

Satellites from Starlink, a SpaceX-owned subsidiary, deliver broadband internet using a low Earth orbit, company officials said.

SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft, helmed at its headquarters in the South Bay. The company was founded in 2002 by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, who also owns the Tesla electric vehicle company and the social media site X, formerly Twitter.

Meanwhile, over the weekend, SpaceX successfully launched two Falcon 9 rockets from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

A Falcon 9 launched the Eutelsat36D satellite at 5:52 p.m. on Saturday evening. Soon after the launch, the booster returned to the Just Read the Instructions drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

Just under four hours later, a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 23 Starlink satellites was launched from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Launch Complex at 9:30 p.m. The satellites we deployed successfully.

Last month, SpaceX came close to completing an hourlong test flight of its mega rocket on its third try on March 14, but the spacecraft was lost as it descended back to Earth.

Two test flights last year both ended in explosions minutes after liftoff. By surviving for close to 50 minutes this time, the effort was considered a win by not only SpaceX’s Elon Musk, but NASA as well as Starship soared higher and farther than ever before. The space agency is counting on Starship to land its astronauts on the moon in another few years.

The nearly 400-foot Starship is the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built.

NASA needs Starship to succeed in order to land astronauts on the moon in the next two or so years. This new crop of moonwalkers — the first since last century’s Apollo program — will descend to the lunar surface in a Starship after transferring from NASA’s Orion capsule in lunar orbit.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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