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Hi friends, it’s your Space Coast correspondent James Sparvero. I hope you’re having a great start to the holiday season.
As we start the final month of 2023, I’ve been thinking more about this year’s remarkable launch pace and how it could continue to set new records in the short amount of time left before we toast to 2024.
So in full transparency, I forgot about Saturday night’s launch! That’s right, I’m openly admitting that counting down to the first local launch of December slipped my mind as I was enjoying some leisure time in downtown Cocoa Beach. It wasn’t until I saw just about everybody around me stop what they were doing and point their phones to the sky that my news instincts kicked in again. As I got out of my chair, I saw that familiar, stunning glare of a Falcon 9 rocket streaking across the sky, which in 2023 has happened more frequently than ever before on our coast.
I guess you could say we truly must be spoiled if someone like me, whose job is to follow the space program (even when holiday parties bring their distractions), happens to forget, if just for a moment, what makes where we live so unique.
Well now, with my undivided attention as I write to you, it brings me just as much excitement as standing along the parade route to report that liftoff Saturday night extended the ongoing record of Space Coast launches within a year to 67! Last year’s record was 57 in Florida, which was shattered in October.
SpaceX usually launches a Starlink mission to add to its Internet constellation every week, and with a couple other missions expected soon as well, we can expect to count to 70 before we can say, “Happy New Year!”
The two high-profile missions that are not Starlink are expected to be the latest launch, potentially on Sunday, of the military’s unmanned X-37B. Its mission is always top-secret, but I found it fascinating two years ago when Russia’s space agency said the spaceplane is proof the U.S is developing weapons in space.
The other big one on the calendar is Christmas Eve! Normally a day when the only news at the beach is Surfing Santas, United Launch Alliance selected the 24th for the first launch of its new Vulcan Centaur rocket which will replace the Atlas and Delta rockets. Before we knew the time of the launch, I wondered if it could possibly happen during Surfing Santas! It won’t, though. Liftoff is scheduled at 1:49 in the morning.
Lastly, while it may not be a Florida launch, we also can’t forget about the possibility, according to another bold call by Elon Musk, of the third Starship flight test by Christmas! With the first two launches this year ending explosively, might expectations for the third give new meaning to “going out with a bang” when we look back on 2023!
📧 Let me know your thoughts, and if you have any other topics you’d like to discuss, shoot me an email here.
👋 Here’s a little bit more about me.
Little did I know when watching Apollo 13 in the third grade that 20 years later, I was destined for a thrilling career as your Space Coast multimedia journalist.
Chemistry and biology weren’t so interesting to me in high school science, but I loved my Earth and Space class (Thanks, Mr. Lang).
Then in 2016, I traded Capitol correspondent in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for space correspondent. I’m proud that my first live report at News 6 happened to be the first time SpaceX landed a Falcon 9 booster on a barge. What seems so routine now was a really big deal that day in our newsroom!
From there, I’ve covered the Commercial Crew program and the return of human spaceflight to Kennedy Space Center (Demo-2 launched on my 33rd birthday!)
Now, as our coverage looks forward to missions to the moon and Mars, I often tell others I have the best job in local news. Because after all I’ve seen so far, I think I would be bored working somewhere else. I even bought a house near the Cape with a great view to the north so I never miss a launch even when I’m not working.
After seven years on the beat, though, I still consider myself a young space reporter and I always look forward to learning something new with every assignment.
Have a great launch into the rest of your week!
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