May 25, 2022

It’s ready for another SpaceX Starlink mission. This morning at 5:45 a.m. PST, a Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral, Florida, which includes 2,000 constellations of near-Earth instruments as part of the 2,000-strong SpaceX constellation.

The launch was the fourth for the launch vehicle, which landed in the Atlantic Ocean just minutes after the mission aboard the Lack of Gravity drone ship.

While this flight was nothing new for SpaceX — the company launched seven Starlink missions this year, plus three more — a particularly interesting joke was thrown in the launch sequence.

“It’s time to let America’s broom fly and hear the sounds of freedom,” SpaceX’s launch director said before launching.

The remarks relate to the failure of the head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, last week to ban the sale of Russian rocket engines to the United States in response to rising tensions between the two countries. “Let them fly on something else, on their broom, I don’t know what,” he said on state news.

While the Falcon 9 rockets use SpaceX’s own Merlin engines, other US rockets, notably United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V and Northrop Grumman’s Antares, are powered by Russian engines. ULA announced that it had enough engines for its upcoming launch, but Northrop Grumman made no statement about the potential impact of the ban on its missions.

In any case, SpaceX is doing the lion’s share of US rocket launches, and its sweep is working just fine, as today’s launch showed us.

SpaceX’s next launch will not be a Starlink mission, but a manned mission. The launch of the Axiom-1 mission is scheduled for March 30 and will be the first private flight to the International Space Station (ISS). SpaceX already has considerable experience in manned missions – it has already sent four NASA crews to the ISS, as well as the Inspiration 4 mission, whose full civilian crew circled the Earth for several days in a Crew Dragon capsule.

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