SpaceX launched their Starlink v1.0 L18 flight, or 19th Starlink mission, from SLC-40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Thursday, 4 February at 01:19 EST (06:19 UTC).
This is scheduled to be followed by a second Starlink mission from nearby LC-39A just under 28 hours later, keeping SpaceX on track to achieve their planned 48 launches this year while the Eastern Range and 45th Space Wing of the United States Space Force remain on target to reach their own goal of supporting at least 48 launches a year — or one per week — from Florida.
With an on-time liftoff, the Starlink v1.0 L18 flight (“L18”) was the first Starlink mission to launch out of numerical sequence as its liftoff occurred just more than one day before the scheduled Starlink v1.0 L17 (“L17”) flight.
This kind of out-of-sequence launch — while incredibly common through the Space Shuttle program — was one of the first highly public instances in more than a decade with U.S. missions of flights ending up out of numerical sequence because of delays.
Specifically, this occurrence with Starlink L18 was caused by the L17 mission’s continued troubles both pre- and post-static fire. The L17 mission was originally scheduled for 27 January and is now targeting Friday, 5 February.
After lifting off from SLC-40, Falcon 9 pitched and rolled onto the proper heading to achieve a 53 degree inclination orbit.
After stage separation, first stage booster B1060-5 headed for a landing on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship positioned approximately 630 km northeast of the launch site in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina.