A Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX recently broke a reuse record.
22 of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites were carried by the Falcon 9 as it blasted out from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Tuesday at 11:38 p.m. EDT (0338 GMT, September 20).
8.5 minutes after liftoff, the rocket’s first stage returned to Earth and touched down on a SpaceX drone ship stationed at sea.
According to a SpaceX mission description, it was this Falcon 9′s first stage’s 17th launch and landing. These numbers break the previous record of 16, which was held by two distinct Falcon 9 boosters.
Meanwhile, the 22 Starlink satellites successfully launched from the upper stage of the Falcon 9 62.5 minutes after liftoff.
The launch on Tuesday night also broke a previous record because it was SpaceX’s 65th orbital mission of the year. The business’s prior benchmark, 61, was established in 2022.
Building out the Starlink megaconstellation, which presently consists of more than 4,700 operational satellites, has taken up the majority of SpaceX’s missions this year. Given that SpaceX has been given authorization to loft 12,000 Starlink vehicles and has requested permission for an additional 30,000, this figure should keep rising for a while.
Tuesday night’s planned launch of a Falcon 9 utilising a first stage rocket making its 17th flight will allow SpaceX to explore the limits of booster reusability. The Starlink internet network is expected to launch 22 satellites from Cape Canaveral’s pad 40 at 10:47 p.m. EDT (02:47 UTC).
For the Starlink 6-17 mission, booster serial number 1060 will fly a record-breaking 17 times. SpaceX approved its collection of Falcon 9 first-stage rockets earlier this year for up to 20 missions.
After launching the GPS 3-3 satellite for the American Space Force in June 2020, the booster also launched the Turksat 5A, Transporter-2, Intelsat G-33/G-34, and Transporter-6 missions, as well as 11 Starlink delivery flights.
As a storm develops offshore in the Atlantic and a weather front stagnates just south of Florida’s space coast, Space Force meteorologists are keeping a careful eye on the situation. They forecasted a 60% chance of suitable weather for launch in a report released on Monday. A breach of the cumulus cloud rule is the key worry. If the launch is delayed by a day, there is only a 30% chance of having suitable weather, as the coastal storm intensifies.
The so-called V2 small Starlink satellites, which are bigger and have four times the bandwidth of the earlier models, will be launched for the twentieth time. Condensed versions of the V2 Starlink satellites were developed in order to be launched on Falcon 9 in place of the full-sized satellites, which were intended to be launched by SpaceX’s completely reusable Starship spacecraft.