Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched 60 Starlink satellites in its Falcon 9 booster and subsequently landed it for the 10th time. The reusable booster lifted off from the Space Launch Complex at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on May 9, 2.42 EST and marked the 14th launch SpaceX made in the first 5 months of this year.
For those who may not know, Starlink is both a collection of internet satellites and the name of a constellation of satellites led by innovator, billionaire Elon Musk. Starlink aims to provide low-latency, high speed internet to those regions in the world that are remote.
SpaceX does that through its constellation of satellites that are orbiting the Earth. The satellites are shot outside the planet through SpaceX’s own reusable rockets.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 with booster B1051 took with it as many as 60 Starlink internet satellites to be put into the Earth’s orbit on May 9. After the launch, the booster also made its way back to Earth and then made a safe soft landing at the sea landing pad. With this landing, it was the 10th time SpaceX made the use of company’s completely reusable Falcon 9 booster.
Before the successful launch and landing, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter and wrote, “First time a Falcon rocket booster will reach double digits in flights.”
First time a Falcon rocket booster will reach double digits in flights https://t.co/wrojsaGExZ
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 8, 2021
Last year, SpaceX created a record for itself, launching 26 rockets and with the rate with which its sending more and more rockets to space, it looks like it has no plan of slowing down. Just this year, the California-based company has carried forward 14 missions. What’s more important, is the fact that all those 14 launches have made use of reusable rockets.
In April, 2021, the space-exploration company celebrated the launch of its Crew-2 mission as the company sent 4 astronauts to join the International Space Station. It was the third astronaut mission by SpaceX in the span of 12 months and first crewed mission to use a reusable rocket.
Meanwhile, the company’s 11 missions had its rockets carrying several satellites into Earth’s orbit. So far, the company has already created a network of 1,440 internet satellites. Although this number may sound impressive, our readers would be further impressed to know that the company will be launching several thousands of more satellites and will be using its fleet of reusable rockets to do so.
More about Falcon 9
The Falcon 9 is a rocket designed by SpaceX that’s first of its kind due to the fact that it is reusable. Meaning, once it is launched, it can complete its mission and then return back to Earth and land safely on a pre-decided landing pad.
The company uses the rocket for reliable transfer of both human crew and cargo into Earth’s orbit and/or beyond. Thanks to its reusability, SpaceX is able to re-launch its most expensive parts which consequently helps the cost of space access drop down.
The two-stage rocket made its debut first in 2019 when it launched the Crew Dragon capsule on its Demo-1 mission as part of a test flight conducted in association with NASA. Meanwhile, the booster B1051 that was used in Sunday’s launch is a veteran booster that has 10 launches and 11 landings under its cap.
For Falcon 9, the launch on Sunday was its 118th flight and 64th one with a refurbished booster. Falcon 9’s origin goes as far as 2018 when it flew a prototype of its rocket called Block 5. With years, SpaceX made exponential leaps and ushered a new era of rockets that are reusable and refurbish-able.
In 2019, Elon Musk was reported saying how he and his company expects each unit of the Falcon 9 to fly at least 10 times with minimal refurbishments and more than 100 times before being completely called off and sent to retirement.