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Booster Reuse Milestone set by SpaceX on Starlink Launch

On May 9, SpaceX launched a constellation of Starlink satellites aboard a Falcon 9 rocket whose first stage was flying for the tenth time, achieving a long-awaited milestone in the company’s reusability efforts. At 2:42 a.m., the Falcon 9 rocket took off from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in the east.

The upper stage of the rocket delivered 60 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit approximately 65 minutes later. With this mission, SpaceX has now launched three satellites in less than two weeks, bringing the total number of Starlink satellites in orbit to over 1,550. As the constellation expands, the company is increasingly extending its broadband internet beta test program.

On the launch webcast, SpaceX stated that the beta test programme was recently opened up to people in Austria and France. The launch was notable in and of itself because it was the first time a Falcon 9 first stage had flown ten times. In March 2019, the booster launched the Demo-1 commercial crew test flight for the first time.

Before this launch, it launched the Radarsat Constellation Mission, the SiriusXM SXM-7 satellite, and six Starlink flights, the most recent of which was on March 14. SpaceX had set a target of ten flights for Falcon 9 reuse in order to justify the company’s substantial investment in reusability. Elon Musk, chief executive of SpaceX, “There doesn’t seem to be any obvious limit to the reusability of the vehicle.” The organisation has been testing the limits of booster reuse with its own Starlink missions.

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