SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully deployed the latest batch of 60 Starlink satellites on Sunday morning.
The rocket booster used on this mission flew for a record ninth time on Sunday, landing safely on its “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean, SpaceX announced.
This flight marks the fifth mission in 2021 where SpaceX delivered a full stack of 60 Starlink satellites into orbit, drawing near to achieving its initial constellation of 1,440 satellites.
Starlink is a satellite-based Internet constellation that aims to provide high-speed broadband to the entire globe, as well as potential rural connectivity.
In order to provide continuous coverage, the idea requires swarms of satellites operating in low-Earth orbit, approximately 547 km above the Earth’s surface.
A record-breaking trip
The B1051 booster is one of SpaceX’s reusable rockets that has completed more than seven missions.
In March of 2019, the booster took to the skies for the first time, sending an unmanned Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a demonstration mission.
Following its previous flight on 20 January, SpaceX engineers were able to make reparations and prepare the booster for its historic ninth flight.
In theory, SpaceX engineered the Falcon 9 rocket to fly up to 10 times with little to no maintenance in between. Hence, the company is carefully tracking the wear and tear on its boosters as they reach the 10-flight-milestone.
Since SpaceX has a fleet of flight-proven rockets at its disposal, the company can keep up with its accelerated launch schedule.
Company officials, however, have stated that while booster recovery is a bonus, the main goal is to get whatever payload the rocket is carrying into orbit.
Below is a video of SpaceX’s Starlink launch on Sunday 14 March.