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SpaceX’s Falcon 9 successfully launches and lands for a Record Ninth Time

SpaceX successfully launched one of its Falcon 9 rocket with another batch of 60 Starlink internet satellites into space’s orbit on Mar. 14. After the two-stage blaster lifted off from Nasa’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the rocket was able to nail its landing at sea, making it the first in the company’s fleet to launch and land nine times.

Around 9 minutes after the liftoff, the reusable rocket’s first stage returned to Earth to attempt its 9th landing on SpaceX’s ocean-faring droneship ‘of Course I Still Love You’, positioned out in the Atlantic.

The flight came days after SpaceX’s last launch, which was from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, where a different Falcon 9 rocket took off.

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A full stack of 60 Starlink satellites was delivered to orbit in both the missions, helping SpaceX inch closer to filling its goal of having 1,440 satellites in orbit.

a plane flying in the air with smoke coming out of it
© Photo: SpaceX (Getty Images)

As the Falcon 9 lit up the night sky in Florida, the only concerns predicted by the 45th Weather Squadron were the potential for cumulus clouds on an otherwise ideal launch condition. However, to the delight of everyone, there was not a cloud in the sky as people could view the rocket blast into orbit.

With more than seven flights recorded under its name, the booster named ‘B1051’ is one of the two in SpaceX’s stable reusable rockets. In March 2019, the first one lofted an uncrewed Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a demonstration mission.

After the first mission, B1051 traveled to Canada to launch three satellites from SpaceX’s facilities at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. According to CNET, the B1051 carried five different Starlink missions and a broadband satellite for Sirius XM as it flew a total of 5 times from Florida in 2020.

According to CBS News, the March 14 mission marks SpaceX’s 8th flight this year, and the second flight for B1051.

After B1051’s last flight on January 20, SpaceX engineers, in just 53 days, were able to turn around the booster and prepare for the 9th flight–this marks the second-fastest turnaround time for B1051.

‘B1049’, B1051’s counterpart, has eight flights under its belt. The American aerospace manufacturer developed its Falcon 9 rocket to fly up to 10 times with almost no refurbishments between flights. SpaceX is monitoring the wear and tear each receives during a flight, as the two boosters approach the 10-flight limit.


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