Falcon 9 launches 53 Group 4-31 Starlinks…as SpaceX CEO Elon Musk posts LA sky launch image on Twitter after buying social media firm

by | Oct 28, 2022 | Launches, Satellites, Seradata News, SpaceX

Elon Musk, the richest man in the world via his interests in the SpaceX space firm and in Tesla automobiles, celebrated both his US$44 billion purchase of the social media firm Twitter and the successful launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket by posting an image of its night sky illuminated launch plume on his own Twitter microblog.  The launch itself used a Falcon 9v1.2FT Block 5 partly reusable rocket taking off at 0114 GMT on 28 October 2022 from the Vandenberg launch site in California.  It was carrying 53 Starlink v1.5 Group 4-31 communications satellites.

The reusable first stage B1063 (on its eighth flight) landed on the romantically sounding drone ship Of Course I Still Love You positioned 672 km down range in the Pacific. After raising themselves from their initial orbit, the Group 4-31 Starlink satellites will operate from the Group 4 orbit of 540 km circular orbit at 53.2 degrees inclination.

The illuminated launch plume was seen from most of the California coast as the launch flew south east down the west coast.  According to a tweet by astrophysicist and space launch expert Jonathan McDowell, the plume was the Falcon 9’s second stage rocket exhaust expanding hundreds of miles long in the very low density upper atmosphere about 200 km up in space.

Falcon 9 second stage launch plume flying Starlink Group 4-31 as seen from LA. Courtesy: Elon Musk/Twitter


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