A Falcon 9 stands ready for a Starlink mission at Cape Canaveral’s pad 40. File photo: Adam Bernstein/Spaceflight Now.

Following the historic launch of a pair of the European Commission’s Galileo satellites, SpaceX is preparing to launch another batch of its own Starlink high-speed internet satellites. The Sunday evening Falcon 9 launch will mark the 29th dedicated launch of Starlink satellites in 2024.

Liftoff of the Starlink 6-54 mission from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS) is set for 6:08 p.m. EDT (2208 UTC). If needed, SpaceX has backup opportunities until 9:50 p.m. EDT (0150 UTC).

Spaceflight Now will have live coverage beginning about an hour prior to liftoff.

The Falcon 9 first stage booster supporting this mission, tail number B1076 in the SpaceX fleet, will be launching for a 13th time. It previously supported the launches of Ovzon 3, Intelsat IS-40e, SpaceX’s 26th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-26) flight and six Starlink missions.

A little more than eight minutes after liftoff, B1076 will land on the SpaceX droneship, ‘Just Read the Instructions.’ This will be the 80th landing on JRTI and the 301st booster landing to date.

The 23 Starlink satellites will add to the 5,874 currently on orbit, according to the numbers tabulated on April 24 by astronomer and expert orbital tracker, Jonathan McDowell. Prior to this launch, 633 Starlink satellites have been launched in 2024.

On Wednesday, SpaceX announced that the Federated States of Micronesia, an island country in the Pacific Ocean, east of Australia.

Starlink’s high-speed, low-latency internet is now available in the Federated States of Micronesia! → https://t.co/G1myzWJQ6j pic.twitter.com/VX8ZFS0dut

— Starlink (@Starlink) April 24, 2024

Dragon departure

The Starlink 6-54 launch comes just hours after the SpaceX Cargo Dragon undocked from the International Space Station to begin its roughly 36-hour journey to splashdown off the coast of Florida. Undocking occurred at 1:10 p.m. EDT (1710 UTC).

The Tuesday morning splashdown will bring the CRS-30 mission to a conclusion. It was docked to the ISS for more than 30 days and will return with more than 4,000 pounds of science experiments.

The operation is also another important step towards the launch of Boeing’s first crewed mission to the orbiting outpost using its Starliner spacecraft.

Before that launch can take place, SpaceX needs to relocate its Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft from the forward-facing port to the space-facing port of the Harmony module. That maneuver is set to take place on May 2.

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