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SpaceX launches 13 satellites for the Space Force

SpaceX early this morning successfully completed its second launch for the Space Force, lifting off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California and placing another thirteen satellites of its Tranche-0 constellation into orbit.

The first stage completed its thirteenth mission, successfully landing back at Vandenberg.

This flight was SpaceX’s 61st in 2023, which matches the record it set last year, doing it in only eight months. With four months still left to go in the year the chances of SpaceX meeting its goal of 100 launches in the year still remains a possibility.

Furthermore, this was the 70th successful launch for the United States this year, which matches the record that the nation had set in 1966, and had been the record for the country until last year, when American companies (with help of one government launch) completed 85 launches. It seems last year’s record will be smashed without much problem.

The leaders in the 2023 launch race:

61 SpaceX
38 China
12 Russia
7 Rocket Lab
7 India

In the national rankings, American private enterprise now leads China in successful launches 70 to 38. It also leads the entire world combined, 70 to 62, while SpaceX by itself now trails the rest of the world (excluding American companies) by only 61 to 62, with another Starlink launch is now scheduled for tomorrow.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Blackwing1

    I don’t care how many times I see it, watching the booster re-enter and then do the powered landing always gives me a thrill.

  • Mark

    Thanks again to Edward for his 8/29 comments regarding the need for “Entry” burns for RTLS F9 missions.

    For brevity, I’ll only show the entry burn telemetry from this RTLS and the last Starlink ASDS landing missions in the following table:
    kph km kph km
    speed alt speed alt
    entry start 4500 47 7950 62
    entry end 4200 32 5450 42
    5500 32

    To recap, at the speed is 5450 kph at the end of the ASDS burn at 42 km. I also included the velocity at 32 km. This is 1,000 kph faster than the beginning of the entry burn for a RTLS mission. I am still mystified why even a short entry burn is needed for a RTLS mission given these lower velocities at similar altitudes/air densities. I’m sure that there is a good reason but I’m not a SpaceX rocket scientist. Skipping the entry burn for RTLS missions could save some mass and wear and tear on the Merlins. I promise that this will be the last time I bring this up. :-)

  • wayne

    Excellent video perspective on this launch!
    It really gives you a sense of height & speed.
    (As much as I do enjoy watching the 2nd stage engine glow orange, no great loss not seeing the 2nd stage and payload this time around.)

  • David


    Mr. Zimmerman is mentioned prominently in an article at The Hill website today regarding SpaceX and the federal government. Interesting stuff…

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