SpaceX to fly 13 more Direct to Cell Starlink satellites on Falcon 9 rocket launch from Vandenberg SFB – Spaceflight Now


A Falcon 9 rocket stands ready to support the Starlink 7-9 mission from Vandenberg Space Force Base. The mission included the first six satellites that will be used for the company’s direct-to-cell service. File photo: SpaceX

Update 11:58 p.m. EDT: SpaceX scrubbed planned Wednesday launch and rescheduled for Thursday.

SpaceX pushed back the launch of another batch of Starlink satellites to Thursday following a successful launch from Florida’s Space Coast earlier Wednesday. The Starlink 8-2 mission from the company’s West Coast launch pad features 13 more satellites boasting a Direct to Cell capability.

In total, there are 20 Starlink satellites awaiting departure from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) Thursday night. Liftoff from Vandenberg Space Force Base is targeted for 8:20 p.m. PDT (11:20 p.m. EDT, 0320 UTC). The launch time was pushed back multiple times Wednesday and SpaceX did not give a reason for delaying a day.

Spaceflight Now will have live coverage beginning about 30 minutes prior to liftoff.

The Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission, B1082 in the SpaceX fleet, will be launching for a fourth time. It previously supported the launches of the USSF-62 mission along with two Starlink flights.

A little more than eight minutes after liftoff, B1082 will touch down on the SpaceX droneship, ‘Of Course I Still Love You.’ This will mark the 89th landing for OCISLY and the 306th booster landing to date.

The Direct to Cell portion of the Starlink constellation is a fairly recent addition. To date, SpaceX has announced the launch of 12 such satellites. This mission will bring that total up to 25 in low Earth orbit.

The mission also exemplifies the pace at which the Western Range is increasing its ability to support orbital flights. The Starlink 8-2 mission will be the 15th launch from VSFB, more than half of what the West Coast Space Force facility supported in all of 2023.

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