SpaceX Just Launched Its 100th Flight Of A Falcon 9 Rocket
SpaceX launches seem to be happening like clockwork now, but last night’s was a particularly special one, marking the 100th flight of a Falcon 9 rocket.
Tuesday’s successful launch was the twenty-third by SpaceX this year, and the seventh launch involving the same Falcon 9 rocket – both new records for the company. The payload, Starlink 15 v1.0, saw another 60 satellites delivered into orbit as part of the company’s satellite broadband program.
The Falcon 9 took off from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 9.13pm on Tuesday evening, with the reusable first-stage of the two stage rocket sticking its landing on the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ droneship used to recover the Falcon 9’s booster in the Atlantic Ocean northeast of the launch complex. In a tweet posted minutes before lift-off, SpaceX founder Elon Musk claimed the launch carried ‘more risk than normal’, but things went off seemingly without a hitch.
As per Business Insider, the rocket used in Tuesday’s launch made its debut back in May 2018 in a mission to replace a shared satellite, before delivering 10 iridium communications satellites in January 2019. It has since gone on to be involved in four Starlink launches in the past two years.
SpaceX has had its busiest year on record, beating its previous high watermark of 21 launches in 2018. This past month alone has seen four flights for four different missions take place, including the first operational launch of a crewed mission aboard the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.
Tuesday’s launch was the sixteenth flight as part of the Starlink mission, bringing the estimated number of Starlink satellites now in orbit to more than 830. These satellites form the early stages of the broadband network that is currently being beta tested in parts of the northwest United States and southern Canada, with 42,000 of them eventually expected to provide high-speed internet worldwide.
In a Reddit AMA over the weekend, SpaceX engineers confirmed plans to expand beta testing of Starlink in January 2021, while the company has previously said it hopes to achieve global coverage by the end of next year.
The launch caps off a bumper day for Musk, who a few hours earlier saw Tesla hit a $500 billion market cap for the first time, and officially overtook Bill Gates to become the second-richest man on Earth.
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