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Tue, Jan 02, 2024

SpaceX Slings Steel At Unprecedented Rate

EOY Double Launch Takes Place in 3 Hours to Impressed Onlookers

SpaceX broke a record of sorts with their last launch, sending off its 95th and 96th of 2023 missions at a breakneck pace.

The recent launches saw a single-core Falcon 9 rocket take to the skies in less than three hours from its preceding Falcon Heavy.

The impressive show put an uncrewed X-37B spacecraft into orbit first, with the second launch delivering 23 fresh satellites for the Starlink constellation. As usual, Cape Canaveral served as an excellent launch point, providing the right blend of orbital ease and well-placed infrastructure needed to pull off a double header.

The headliner was the large, growling Falcon Heavy, which took off at 20:07 EST to the awe of space fans below. All 27 Merlin engines grunted from a trio of Falcon 9 boosters mounted below the payload, slowly creeping off the platform as America's most promising heavy lifter proved its mettle. The launch went beautifully, with the boosters separating perfectly to return back to Earth in an equally loud, racuous landing near Cape Canaveral. Watchers online may have been a bit crestfallen to see SpaceX's commentary end prematurely, cutting off after the booster separation. As it happens, the X-37B delivered into orbit was operated by the US Space Force, rendering the mission more secret than usual. What happened to the little spacecraft remained unknown to onlookers, but a successful delivery means that the Boeing bird is safely in orbit performing its mission.

Once away, SpaceX personnel set to work prepping the next launch, readying the smaller Falcon 9 for launch. The launch began 2 hours and 54 minutes after the Heavy's, snagging another space history record for SpaceX. The double launch is said to be the quickest turnaround since the golden age of space launch.

FMI: www.spacex.com

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