Latest SpaceX Starlink satellite launch sets another flight record – CNET

The booster flown Tuesday had been used five times before.


SpaceX

SpaceX on Tuesday sent another batch of Starlink broadband satellites on their way to orbit from Florida, along with a few Earth-observing metal birds, and made history once again in the process.

The Falcon 9 booster that Elon Musk’s space company used for the ride share had previously flown on three Starlink missions and on two commercial satellite delivery gigs. That means its flight this week was its sixth, a new mark for a single orbital rocket. 

“Some big milestones coming up,” Musk said on Twitter Sunday, referring to the sixth flight of the booster (serial number B-1049) and the 100th mission for SpaceX over the company’s history. 

The Falcon 9 first stage actually set two records on the same day, by first launching for the sixth time and then landing for the sixth time a short while later. 

The launch went off on schedule Tuesday morning at 7:31 a.m. PT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and the booster landed about nine minutes later on the droneship Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic Ocean.

In addition to the historic launch and landing, SpaceX will try to catch both halves of the nose cone that protects 58 Starlink satellites and three satellites belonging to Earth-imagery company Planet as they blast through the atmosphere. The fairing pair used Tuesday is also experienced in flight, having been used and recovered on an earlier Starlink mission. SpaceX has just recently perfected its method for retrieving these components, and we’ll see if it can make a habit of this and continue to expand its recycling program.

Although officially named Starlink 10, this is actually the 11th launch of a batch of Starlink satellites, following the most recent prior mission on Aug. 7. The next one after this week’s is set for September, and will be preceded by a Falcon 9 launch in late August of a Argentinian satellite that was originally scheduled for a 2019 liftoff.