After several weather-related scrubs, SpaceX has successfully launched its 13th Starlink mission, sending 60 more of the satellites into orbit.
The launch comes days after SpaceX CEO Elon Musk stated on Twitter that the company will "have to make a lot of improvements to have a chance of completing 48 launches next year."
Starlinks are go
The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 7:29 a.m. EDT, with its payload of 60 Starlink satellites. Roughly 9 minutes later, the booster's first stage came back to land on one of SpaceX's drone ships in the Atlantic Ocean.
As Space.com reports, the launch marks SpaceX's 17th mission in 2020 and its 94th successful Falcon 9 launch to date. SpaceX is ticking off the milestones this year, including having sent astronauts to space for the first time, as well as having launched and recovered the same reusable Falcon 9 booster for the sixth time.
The launch, which was originally scheduled for September, had been postponed several times due to weather, including twice last week. The last cancellation, also caused by weather, took place on Monday, after which SpaceX tweeted that it was planning for a 7:29 a.m. ET Tuesday launch with 70% favorable weather.
We are standing down from today's Starlink mission due to weather violations on the Range. The team is setting up for a launch opportunity tomorrow at 7:29 a.m. EDT; weather forecast is 70% favorable for liftoff— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 5, 2020
The specific Falcon 9 rocket that took the 60 additions to the Starlink fleet into orbit was the same one used to send astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken towards the ISS in May as part of SpaceX's first-ever astronaut launch. So far, SpaceX has launched and landed the reusable rocket three times.
'A lot of improvements needed', says Musk
Though the delays for this mission were caused by the weather, Elon Musk took to Twitter last week to voice his frustration after a different SpaceX mission for the US Space Force was also delayed.
That mission was aborted with 2 seconds to go to liftoff. No reason has yet been given for the scrub, and the launch is yet to be rescheduled.
"We will need to make a lot of improvements to have a chance of completing 48 launches next year!" Musk tweeted on Friday.
We will need to make a lot of improvements to have a chance of completing 48 launches next year!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 3, 2020
Today's launch was a fairly routine mission for SpaceX, as the company is planning on getting dozens more Starlink launches into orbit — something that has the astronomical community worried due to the satellite's knack for ruining space observations.
SpaceX aims to eventually have thousands of Starlink satellites in orbit as part of its broadband mega-constellation. Watch the successful October 6 launch below.