SpaceX successfully launched its latest Starlink mission today while setting a new record for reusing a Falcon 9 first stage booster. Starlink is SpaceX’s growing satellite internet service, and SpaceX uses these missions to deploy up to 60 of its own satellites into orbit as test beds for pushing booster re-flight records.
Today’s liftoff at 8:02 a.m. EST from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida marks the seventeenth Starlink mission and the first time a flight-proven Falcon 9 booster has completed eight missions. SpaceX pushes rocket reusability as a critical strategy for reducing launch cost and expanding access to space.
The Falcon 9 first stage booster that helped launch the Starlink satellite payload and second stage booster into space landed on SpaceX’s droneship “Just Read the Instructions” positioned in the Atlantic Ocean. The now eight times flight proven booster will travel to Port Canaveral in Cape Canaveral, Florida, before being refurbished and hopefully flown again soon.
Booster B1051.8, the new fleet leader, last launched on SpaceX’s SXM-7 mission to deploy SiriusXM radio satellites into orbit just 37 days ago. SXM-7 was notable for using a booster re-flown so many times before on a customer mission and not a SpaceX launch.
SpaceX aims to launch, land, refurbish, and re-fly its Falcon 9 first stage boosters at least 10 times. With the record number of launches per booster climbing from seven to eight from December to January, we should expect SpaceX to hit its goal of 10 launches with a single booster this year. For now, enjoy these views from today’s SpaceX launch captured by the Space Explored team from Kennedy Space Center and around the Space Coast:
- SpaceX Starlink mission marks 100th flight of Falcon 9 rocket, breaking booster re-use record
- SpaceX expanding Starlink internet beta pool by ‘several thousand’, Florida likely in January
- Falcon 9 booster from Crew-1 launch returns to port weathered and leaning