SpaceX just set a new record for rocket reuse.
a Falcon 9 The rocket lifted off from Space Force Station Cape Canaveral in Florida on Sunday at 11:58 p.m. EDT (0358 GMT on July 10), sending 22 of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites toward low Earth orbit (LEO).
This was the unprecedented 16th launch of the first stage of the Falcon 9 booster, according to the company.
Related: SpaceX’s massive Starlink satellite is being launched in pictures
The booster returned to Earth on the 16th landing as well, landing on the deck of a SpaceX drone in the Atlantic Ocean about 8.5 minutes after liftoff.
Meanwhile, the expendable Falcon 9 upper stage continued to pull 22 Starlink satellites aloft. The batch is scheduled to be posted to LEO 62 minutes after launch.
The 22 satellites are “V2 Minis,” a newer, more powerful version of SpaceX’s broadband vehicle. It’s actually larger than the previous Starlink version, about 50 of which could fit on a Falcon 9. But it’s “small” compared to the final, 1.25-tonne (1.1 metric-ton) V2 satellites that will be launched aboard SpaceX. Next-generation giant starship vehicle.
“V2 minis include key technologies — such as more powerful phased array antennas and the use of uplink electronic bandwidth — that will allow Starlink to deliver up to 4 times more capacity per satellite than previous iterations,” said SpaceX. via Twitter in February.
The first stage of the Falcon 9 that flew last Sunday night was launched in December 2022. Among its 15 previous flights was Demo-2, SpaceX’s first-ever crewed mission, which sent two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station in 2020.
The booster is not out of reuse; The other Falcon 9 first stage has 15 flights under its belt, and a few more have launched 14 times.
Starship will take the light to another level, if all goes according to plan. The giant craft, the most powerful rocket ever built, was designed to be completely reusable. Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, said both of its stages would be able to fly multiple times in one day.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 1 a.m. ET on July 9 with the new launch time at 8:36 p.m. EST. The original launch target was July 9 at 4:36 AM EST. It was updated again at 9 PM ET on July 9 with a new launch time of 11:58 PM EST. It was updated again at 12:25 AM ET on July 10 with news of the successful launch and rocket landing.
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