SpaceX’s Starlink 6-38 Mission Sets Stage for Busy Week of Launches and First-Time Cygnus Spacecraft Launch

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida – SpaceX is gearing up for a busy week as they prepare to kick off two Starlink flights and launch a Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) for the first time. The first mission, Starlink 6-38, is scheduled to send 23 additional satellites to low Earth orbit. Liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket carrying these satellites is set for Sunday, Jan. 28, at 7:21 p.m. EST (0021 UTC). The launch will take place at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, marking the 74th Falcon rocket launch from this pad and the 167th overall launch.

The Falcon 9 rocket for this mission will be using the booster tail number B1062, which will be making its 18th flight. Previously, B1062 has supported crewed launches, GPS satellites, and 10 Starlink missions. About 8.5 minutes after liftoff, the booster will land on the droneship named ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas’. If the launch is successful, the key statistics will be as follows: 18th launch and landing of B1062, 74th SpaceX launch from LC-39A, 167th orbital launch from LC-39A, 293rd Falcon 9 launch, 58th landing on ASOG, 267th Falcon 9 booster landing, 6th orbital launch from Florida in 2024, 8th SpaceX launch in 2024, and 19th orbital launch in 2024.

Following the Starlink 6-38 mission, SpaceX has another Falcon 9 flight scheduled less than four hours later. The Starlink 7-12 mission will be launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base, targeting liftoff at 6:16 p.m. PST (9:16 p.m. EST, 0216 UTC) from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E). This mission will add 22 more Starlinks to the constellation in low Earth orbit.

While these two missions are in progress, SpaceX, NASA, and Northrop Grumman are making final preparations for the NG-20 launch, which will be the latest cargo resupply mission to the ISS. Additionally, SpaceX is supporting the private astronaut mission, Ax-3, which is currently taking place on the ISS. The four astronauts, led by Michael López-Alegría, are scheduled to return to Earth in the Dragon spacecraft next weekend, weather permitting.

It is worth noting that this will be the first time SpaceX is launching a Cygnus spacecraft, with two more missions planned in collaboration with Northrop Grumman and Firefly Aerospace for the development of the joint rocket named Antares 330. The cargo flight for this mission is set to launch from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. SpaceX’s intensive launch schedule demonstrates their commitment to advancing space exploration and satellite deployments.

Overall, SpaceX is poised for an action-packed week as they juggle multiple missions and continue their contributions to space research and astronaut transportation. Their relentless pursuit of technological innovation has positioned them as one of the leading players in the aerospace industry.