SpaceX's Starlink mission successfully blasted off Friday morning at 10:38 a.m. into clear, sunny skies from Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Space Force Base after four days of delay due to unfavorable weather conditions.
Much of the state, including the Central Coast, was doused by rain, wind and hail over the past week, forcing SpaceX to reset the mission multiple times since Monday.
One minute into liftoff, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket went "supersonic," traveling faster than the speed of sound, according to Mission Control, and on a mission to carry 51 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit.
One minute and 34 seconds later, the reusable two-stage booster separated, with the first stage headed back to Earth.
The booster — having previously launched Crew-1, Crew-2, SXM-8, CRS-23, IXPE, Transporter-4, Transporter-5, Globalstar FM15, ISI EROS C-3 and two Starlink missions — successfully touched down on the autonomous droneship, "Of Course I Still Love You," stationed in the Pacific Ocean for later retrieval.
Reusability, according to Mission Control, is the key to SpaceX's success because it allows the agency to reuse the most expensive parts of the rocket multiple times, driving down the cost of access to space.
Agency officials confirmed several minutes later at 11 a.m. that 51 Starlink satellites successfully deployed to low-Earth obit and will join up with the company's proprietary space-based constellation comprised of highspeed internet satellites which provide service to more than 1 million customers, including those living in remote and rural place around the globe.
The Friday launch marked SpaceX's 15th mission so far this year, the agency said.
Lisa André covers lifestyle and local news for Santa Ynez Valley News and Lompoc Record, editions of the Santa Maria Times.