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SpaceX Breaks Its Own Falcon 9 Flight Record During Starlink Launch



SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launches on Sunday, March 14 (Photo via SpaceX/YouTube)

SpaceX broke its own record on Sunday when it sent a Falcon 9 rocket into space for the ninth time. The successful launch and landing were part of a mission to carry 60 Starlink satellites into orbit.

“Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship, completing the ninth flight of that booster,” CEO Elon Musk wrote in a celebratory tweet over the weekend.

The veteran capsule blasted off from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida early Sunday morning. About nine minutes later, its first stage returned to Earth for a triumphant landing on SpaceX’s drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. The booster, B1051, previously supported the Crew Dragon Demo-1, RADARSAT Constellation, SXM-7, and five Starlink missions.

A different Falcon 9 took off from Cape Canaveral just days earlier, delivering a full stack of Starlink spacecrafts to the firm’s ever-growing constellation, which will eventually provide satellite broadband service to people across the world.

Sunday’s mission, according to Space.com, marks SpaceX’s eighth flight of 2021, and the second this year for B1051. Counterpart B1049 has flown eight times, most recently on March 4. Falcon 9 was designed to fly up to 10 times with little or no adjustments between trips. It’s unclear which rocket will hit double digits first.

A similar mission last month that launched 60 more Starlink satellites was going well—until the company failed to stick the landing of its Falcon 9 first-stage booster for the first time in a year. The rocket, dubbed B1059, led a productive life, having previously flown on two SpaceX Dragon cargo resupply missions to the ISS and a Starlink mission in June. It also ferried an Earth-observing satellite from Argentina and a US government spy satellite.



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