A used SpaceX rocket launched a brand new fleet of Starlink web satellites into orbit and returned to Earth for a surprising touchdown at sea early Wednesday (Could 18).
The 2-stage Falcon 9 rocket topped with 53 Starlink spacecraft soared into the Florida morning sky from NASA’s Pad 39A on the Kennedy House Heart. Liftoff was at 6:59 a.m. EDT (1059 GMT), about 39 minutes later than SpaceX initially deliberate.
“Falcon 9 has efficiently lifted off carrying our 53 Starlink satellites into area,” SpaceX manufacturing supervisor Jessie Anderson mentioned throughout a stay webcast. The launch marked SpaceX’s third Starlink mission in 5 days following missions on Could 13 and Could 14.
About 9 minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket returned to Earth with a clean touchdown on SpaceX’s droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas within the Atlantic Ocean, with onboard cameras capturing beautiful video of your complete descent. It was touchdown quantity 121 for a SpaceX booster, Anderson mentioned.
Associated: SpaceX’s Starlink megaconstellation launches in photographs
Starlink is SpaceX’s broadband constellation, which at the moment consists of greater than 2,300 satellites, in response to astrophysicist and satellite tv for pc tracker Jonathan McDowell. That quantity has been rising quickly currently; SpaceX has launched 21 missions already in 2022, and 14 of them have been devoted Starlink flights as of Wednesday’s launch.
However the Starlink inhabitants might get really large within the not-too-distant future; the next-generation model of the constellation could ultimately include as much as 30,000 satellites, in response to a Reuters report.
Wednesday’s mission marked the fifth for this explicit Falcon 9 first stage. SpaceX beforehand used the rocket booster to launch its Arabsat-6A mission and the House Take a look at Mission-2 flight for the U.S. House Drive (each as one in every of two aspect boosters on a Falcon Heavy rocket); in addition to the COSMO-SkyMed Second Era FM2 satellite tv for pc for Italy and an earlier Starlink flight.
Such reuse is a precedence for SpaceX and its founder and CEO, Elon Musk, who views fast and repeated reflight as the important thing breakthrough wanted to make formidable exploration feats corresponding to Mars settlement economically possible.
Mike Wall is the writer of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a guide concerning the seek for alien life. Observe him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Observe us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Fb.