SpaceX launches Galileo satellites from Cape Canaveral, the first in back-to-back launches

With an on-time liftoff at 8:34 p.m. Saturday, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lit up the night sky briefly before vanishing behind thick clouds. The Galileo L12 mission was on target to deliver Galileo satellites to orbit.

These European Space Agency (ESA) Galileo satellites are an addition to an existing global navigation system of 28 orbiting satellites. The constellation provides global positioning services which are under civilian control and compatible with GPS and Glonass (Russia's global navigation system). The Galileo L12 mission was the first in an anticipated launch double-header from the Space Coast. Next up: an anticipated Sunday night Starlink launch.

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Saturday night's lift off saw not just the delivery of the Galileo satellites, but an end to this Falcon 9 booster's record. SpaceX stated that due to the extra power needed to deliver these satellites to medium Earth orbit, this Falcon 9 was not targeting a landing either on a drone ship or on the ground to later be used again. SpaceX stated during the launch broadcast that the Falcon 9 was not outfitted with landing grid fins, as they did not plan to recover it. According to SpaceX, the last time a Falcon 9 was expended was in November of 2022. This flight was the booster's 20th.

While this Falcon 9 never launched any crewed missions, it powered the launch of 13 Starlink missions as well as multiple other payload deliveries.

The most memorable of these missions was the Intuitive Machines Odysseus lunar lander (IM-1). Even though short lived, the IM-1 mission marked the first time since the Apollo missions that an American spacecraft had landed on the lunar surface.

Saturday's launch also marked SpaceX's 42nd mission of the year, and 31st for the Space Coast.

Those in the Cape Canaveral area have another chance to view a rocket launch. Sunday evening will bring the launch of the next batch of Starlink satellities. According to SpaceX, Starlink 6-54 will launch during a window which opens at 5:50 p.m. and extends until 9:50 p.m. on Sunday, April 28. Sunday's launch will occur from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and follow a southeast trajectory.

That Falcon 9 booster is set to land on a SpaceX drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean so local sonic booms are not expected.

Be sure to follow the FLORIDA TODAY Space Team for the latest information. Downloading the FLORIDA TODAY app and turning on “Breaking News” alerts in the app settings is the best way to get reminders when a rocket is about to lift off from the Space Coast.

Brooke Edwards is a Space Reporter for FLORIDA TODAY. Contact her at or on X: @brookeofstars.

This article originally appeared on Florida Today: SpaceX launched ESA satellites from Cape, bid goodbye to this Falcon 9