SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches Starlink satellites, nails landing for record nine times
- Falcon 9 two-stage boosters are the first and only orbital-class rockets capable of re-flight.
SpaceX launched a new batch of 60 Starlink satellites into orbit after a two-stage Falcon 9 blaster lifted off from Nasa’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday. Approximately nine minutes after the liftoff, the rocket’s reusable first stage landed on SpaceX's ocean-faring droneship ‘of Course I Still Love You’, positioned out in the Atlantic.
The Falcon 9 rocket nailed its landing at sea, becoming the first in the SpaceX fleet to launch and land a record nine times. “Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship, completing the ninth flight of that booster,” tweeted SpaceX, an American aerospace company founded by Elon Musk.
This Falcon 9 first stage booster has previously supported the launch of Crew Dragon Demo-1, RADARSAT Constellation, SXM-7, and five Starlink missions. The successful launch helped SpaceX inch closer to its initial goal of 1,440 satellites to provide near-global service by late 2021 or 2022.
The deployment of the new batch of Starlink satellites comes days after SpaceX’s last launch, where a different Falcon 9 booster took off from neighbouring Cape Canaveral Space Force Station to deliver a full stack of 60 Starlink satellites to orbit. The booster had earlier supported the launch of Nasa astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station, ANASIS-II, CRS-21, Transporter-1, and a Starlink mission.
Falcon 9 two-stage boosters are the first and only orbital-class rockets capable of re-flight. It lands on one of SpaceX’s autonomous spaceport drone ships out on the ocean or one of the landing zones near the launch pads. The reusability allows SpaceX to refly the most expensive parts of the rocket, helping the company drive down the cost of space access.
While the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved to place nearly 12,000 such satellites in space, SpaceX has stated that the ultimate goal is to deploy up to 42,000 satellites. The company has also been sending out invitations to people who are interested in the potential low-cost internet service to apply for receiving updates on Starlink news and beta availability.