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What a Spectacular Sight as a SpaceX Falcon 9 Lit Up the Pre-4th of July Florida Skies

What a Spectacular Sight as a SpaceX Falcon 9 Lit Up the Pre-4th of July Florida Skies
Back in 1962, launching John Glenn was a big deal. Today we launch and land Falcon 9s almost every other day. Here is my on-the-scene report.

Dozens of families gathered in the middle of the night along the Indian River Lagoon Bridge on July 3rd, braving humidity and mosquitoes to watch the Falcon 9 rocket lift off from Cape Canaveral's Space Launch Complex 40. Despite a few hours of delay, people were happy to point out constellations and chat with each other, proving that even a “routine” launch at 4:58 a.m. on a weeknight, just before the break of dawn, is something amazing to see and feel. It is a testament to our humanity and to our country that we can now consider igniting a 229 foot tall reusable rocket to launch a batch of communication satellites into low earth orbit as “routine.” Everyone who gathered to experience the launch agreed it filled us with a sense of awe and inspiration. 

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My personal view of the launch.

SpaceX
SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft.

The fancier SpaceX view of the launch.

This was the 16th flight for the first stage booster, and the 67th Falcon 9 mission of 2024. Falcon 9’s first stage came back to Earth about eight minutes after launch to touch down successfully on a drone ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. The upper stage continued on with the payload to low Earth orbit, where the 20 new Starlink satellites, including 13 with direct-to-cell phone capabilities, will be deployed. SpaceX Starlink satellites provide internet access to people in remote areas around the world by transmitting data via radio signals to small personal ground stations. 

At the end of this month, SpaceX is scheduled to launch the Polaris Dawn crewed mission on its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon crew capsule. One of the crew's mission objectives will be to test in-space communications. The Polaris Dawn crew will be the first crew to test Starlink laser communications in space. It won’t be long before Starlink is being used to revolutionize communications between the Moon and Mars on future missions.