SpaceX launching 11-satellite Bandwagon rideshare mission tonight (April 7)

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SpaceX launching 11-satellite Bandwagon rideshare mission tonight (April 7)
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 11 satellites into orbit from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 7, 2024.



A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 11 satellites into orbit from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 7, 2024.
(Image credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX launched 11 satellites on its first-ever Bandwagon-1 class rideshare mission from Florida tonight (April 7) and aced an evening rocket landing just minutes later.

A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) tonight at 7:16 p.m. EDT (2316 GMT), kicking off the 11-satellite Bandwagon-1 mission. The spacecraft successfully reached orbit, with SpaceX ending its livestream early at the request of its customer South Korea, which flew its Project 425 SAR synthetic aperture radar satellite on the mission, according to Spaceflight Now.

Related: Starlink satellite train: How to see and track it in the night sky

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 11 satellites into orbit from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 7, 2024.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 11 satellites into orbit from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 7, 2024. (Image credit: SpaceX)

“On board this mission are 11 spacecraft including KOREA’s 425Sat, HawkEye 360’s Clusters 8 & 9, Tyvak International’s CENTAURI-6, iQPS’s QPS-SAR-7 TSUKUYOMI-II, Capella Space’s Capella-14, and Tata Advanced Systems Limited’s TSAT-1A,” SpaceX wrote in a mission description.

The Falcon 9’s first stage returned to Earth for a vertical landing about 7.5 minutes after liftoff, if all goes according to plan. It touch downed at SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1 facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, which is next door to KSC.

It was the 14th launch and landing for this particular booster, according to the mission description.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 11 satellites into orbit from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 7, 2024.

SpaceX’s 14-time flier Falcon 9 rocket booster stands on Landing Zone 1 after a successful launch and landing on April 7, 2024. (Image credit: SpaceX)

While this will be the first mission in SpaceX’s new Bandwagon program, the company is no stranger to rideshare launches. 

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SpaceX has sent 10 such missions to orbit via its Transporter program, the most recent of which lifted off last month. The first Transporter mission, which launched in January 2021, delivered 143 satellites to orbit, a single-flight record that still stands today.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include the results of SpaceX’s successful Bandwagon-1 launch.

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Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, “Out There,” was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.

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