On Thursday morning, as the sun rose into the sky, SpaceX successfully launched yet another Falcon 9 rocket carrying Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit.
The Falcon 9 is SpaceX’s workhorse rocket, having launched nine times so far this year – and we’re just nine weeks into the year.
SpaceX can launch so frequently, in part, due to its reuse in of rocket boosters.
Each Falcon 9 rocket has two stages, the first stage, or booster, and the second stage. The much smaller second stage is not reused, it normally burns up on reentry, but the booster returns to land just a few minutes after launch.
During March 3rd’s Starlink launch, Starlink Group 4-9, the booster landed propulsively on SpaceX’s autonomous droneship Just Read the Instructions, which was stationed over 600 km down range in the Atlantic ocean.
Third booster to acheive eleven flights
The most recent version of Falcon 9, block 5, first flew back in 2018, and it made reuseing boosters many times possible. In the past year we have seen “reuse records” broken multiple times in the past year.
The first booster to cross into double-digit territory was B1051 on Starlink V1.0 L27. That booster first flew SpaceX’s Demo-1 mission in March of 2019 and flew its eleventh flight in December of last year on another Starlink mission.
The second booster to reach its eleventh flight happened just last month, when B1058, the historic booster that first launched Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley towards to International Space Station, launched Starlink Group 4-8.
Now, B1060 has completed its eleventh flight, becoming the third booster to do so.
B1060 flight history
|1||GPS III SV03||30 June 2020|
|2||Starlink V1.0 L11||3 September 2020|
|3||Starlink V1.0 L14||23 October 2020|
|4||Turksat 5A||8 January 2021|
|5||Starlink V1.0 L18||2 February 2021|
|6||Starlink V1.0 L22||24 March 2021|
|7||Starlink V1.0 L24||29 April 2021|
|8||Transporter-2||20 June 2021|
|9||Starlink Group 4-3||2 December 2021|
|10||Starlink Group 4-6||19 January 2022|
|11||Starlink Group 4-9||3 March 2022|