An imminent Falcon 9 rocket launch scheduled for this week is set to contribute to one of Vandenberg Space Force Base’s most active years in over thirty years.
The mission, led by SpaceX, involves the deployment of an additional 21 Starlink satellites and is slated for early Thursday, as per advance notices provided for the mission.
The intended liftoff is programmed for 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, with four alternative launch windows spanning from 12:51 a.m. to 3:23 a.m., as indicated by SpaceX on Tuesday evening.
Contingency options have been devised for a 12:30 a.m. and 1:20 a.m. launch on Friday, if required.
Falcon rockets take flight from Space Launch Complex-4 situated on the South Base.
During Starlink missions, the initial-stage booster of the rocket typically accomplishes a controlled landing on the droneship named “Of Course I Still Love You,” strategically positioned several hundred miles away from Vandenberg in the Pacific Ocean.
The West Coast Falcon rocket will be entrusted with ferrying 21 second-generation Starlink satellites, a testament to SpaceX’s ongoing efforts to construct a system aimed at rendering Internet connectivity accessible to remote and underserved rural regions where conventional land-based services are either unreliable or nonexistent.
The upcoming launch will mark Vandenberg’s 20th mission of 2023.
Amidst Lompoc’s commemorative festivities over the weekend, Colonel Mark Shoemaker, the commander of Space Launch Delta 30, expressed gratitude for the bustling year and the collaboration fostered with neighboring communities.
In his words, “With your support, 2023 has witnessed more prolific space launches compared to 2022, a record-setting year in itself. This year, we are on track to exceed launch figures not witnessed since 1987. That’s quite a significant span.”
This surge in missions underscores a trend toward developing constellations composed of numerous small satellites. This encompasses commercial constellations like Starlink and OneWeb, along with Department of Defense systems launched earlier this year from the base.
Beyond captivating local residents who eagerly observe launches—weather permitting—varied missions at Vandenberg draw crew members and spectators to the Lompoc Valley. Many of these individuals patronize local hotels, dine at restaurants, and refuel their vehicles.
“Space remains a flourishing domain, with no signs of slowing down,” Shoemaker proclaimed during Lompoc’s celebratory event. “As our space launches, Department of Defense test missions, and global space operations surge, I am confident that this will bring our community even closer together. We genuinely appreciate Lompoc’s warm hospitality that so many of us consider home, and we eagerly anticipate the future that lies ahead.”