SpaceX has registered its name in the history books by sending its Falcon 9 rocket booster on its 10th flight. This record is also an important achievement in terms of rocket reusability. The rocket was launched with a first-stage booster that was used during the first demonstration of the Crew Dragon capsule.
More satellites for Starlink constellation
It was also used during the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, the SXM-7 launch, and six Starlink satellite launches. On May 9, the rocket took flight from the Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. It was ferrying 60 Starlink satellites that will be added to the SpaceX constellation.
This launch will help the company achieve its goal of providing global broadband internet access. A fraction of users in select countries is currently able to use a beta version of the Starlink network.
Making space missions cheap
Successfully completing 10 flights using one booster is significant as the space company has been aiming to promote booster reuse for a long time. By reusing the first stages, SpaceX aims to bring down the cost of rocket launches drastically. Although the company has had a fair share of troubles with catching its first stage as they come back to Earth, it has become better at doing so with the past few launches. A drone ship, mostly in the Atlantic Ocean, catches the booster when it comes back.
The booster used for the latest launch was taken care of by the drone ship “Just Read The Instructions.” The rocket can potentially be used for a few more launches. Besides, other parts of the rocket such as both halves of its fairing can also be reused.
SpaceX has been at the forefront of new space missions. The company also won NASA’s $2.9 billion contract, beating Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin in the process. SpaceX will be building the first commercial human lander as a part of its Artemis program. The lander will ferry two American astronauts to the lunar surface. “We should accomplish the next landing as soon as possible,” said Steve Jurczyk, NASA’s acting administrator. “If they hit their milestones we have a shot at 2024.”