Elon Musk could always use some good news and, this weekend, via his SpaceX company, he found some.
Launching from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Fla., a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully carried 60 new Starlink internet satellites into orbit early Sunday morning – and landed at sea without incident.
It’s not like this rocket hasn’t been there, done that.
The veteran Falcon 9 rocket is the first in Musk’s SpaceX fleet to launch and land nine times.
About nine minutes after the 6:01 ET launch, the reusable rocket’s first stage returned to Earth to attempt its ninth landing on SpaceX’s drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
A Space.com story reports the flight comes “just days after the company’s last launch, where a different Falcon 9 rocket took off from neighboring Space Launch Complex 40, at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
“Both missions delivered a full stack of 60 Starlink satellites to orbit, helping SpaceX inch ever-closer to filling its initial constellation of 1,440 satellites.”
According to the SpaceX site: Falcon 9 is a reusable, two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by SpaceX for the reliable and safe transport of people and payloads into Earth orbit and beyond. Falcon 9 is the world’s first orbital class reusable rocket. Reusability allows SpaceX to refly the most expensive parts of the rocket, which in turn drives down the cost of space access.
The versatility for these launches is ever-improving.
Sunday’s mission is already No. 8 on the year for SpaceX — the second flight this year for this particular booster.
After a Jan. 20 flight, SpaceX engineers were able to turn around the booster and prep for a historic ninth flight in just 53 days.