SpaceX kicks off 2023 with rideshare mission featuring a flawless landing back at LZ-1

I feel it was just a few days ago we were talking about SpaceX wrapping up 2022 and hitting its 60th launch. With the holiday weekend over, SpaceX is right back at it launching its Falcon 9 rocket.

114 payloads deployed for multiple customers

Transporter-6 is the sixth (hence the name) dedicated mission of SpaceX’s rideshare program. These missions try to compete with the rising market of SmallSat launches like Rocket Lab and the countless other startups preparing to come online hopefully this year. To do this, SpaceX packs its Falcon 9 rocket full of satellites, bringing the cost per customer to a much more attainable price. However, this forces customers to all use the same orbit unless they can move independently. Payloads also have to abide by restraints that other payloads might have when it comes to outgassing from fuels or materials on board.

On SpaceX’s first mission of 2023, Transporter-6 had 114 payloads. That’s not the most we’ve seen from other rideshares, but it’s certainly an impressive amount. Liftoff took place at 9:56 a.m. EST this morning from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, and confirmation of deployment of all payloads came about an hour and a half later via SpaceX’s Twitter account.

First SpaceX 2023 launch features LZ-1 booster landing

What a way to start the year, right? SpaceX launched 60 Falcon 9s last year, but only 10 featured a ground pad landing. Transporter-6 featured a flight of Booster B1060, a flight-leading core now with 15 flights under its belt (tied with the best booster ever, B1058). After successfully launching the upper stage high above the atmosphere, B1060 turned around and returned to the Florida Coast, touching down at LZ-1 just south of SLC-40.

This is the first of many launches to expect from SpaceX this year. Some notable ones to look out for are two more crewed rotations for NASA; the Polaris Dawn flight, the second Axiom mission to the ISS, and NASA’s Psyche mission on a Falcon Heavy. Don’t forget the numerous Starlink flights that will make rocket launches.

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