SpaceX Falcon 9 booster first to complete six flights [videos]

SpaceX launched another batch of Starlink satellites today from the Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida, the United States on Tuesday 18 August. Watch as Falcon 9 makes history.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launches Starlink satellites

Today’s Starlink launch was memorable: it was the first time a booster completed six flights. Its payload included 58 Starlink internet constellation satellites and three Planet Labs satellites.

Watch: Liftoff and deployment confirmed

This Falcon 9 booster also supported the mission previously by carrying Telstar 18 VANTAGE, Iridium-8 satellites into low-Earth orbit. The booster also supported three separate Starlink flights.

Its fifth mission (and the eighth Starlink launch) took place on 18 May 2020 from the Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida, after the launch was postponed due to inclement weather.

Watch: Deployment confirmed

Other than three previous Starlink mission, the Falcon 9 rocket also launched the eighth and final set of satellites in a series of 75 satellites forming part of Iridium’s next-gen global satellite constellation.

In 2018, the Falcon 9 Block 5 booster launched the Telstar 18V communication satellite from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, United States. Monday’s launch will mark its fifth mission.

Watch: Falcon 9 booster recovery

What is Starlink

SpaceX is planning as many as 35 Starlink launches throughout the year; including flights to carry new a broadband satellite into orbit which will eventually provide global internet coverage.

The Starlink constellation will eventually comprise of 12 000 or so Starlink satellites orbiting the earth. SpaceX has already applied to increase the number by a further 35 000.

Launching Internet satellites into space is only part of SpaceX and Starlink’s objective. Musk also plans to use revenue from the Internet coverage mission to develop and build the Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket.

What is Starship?

In a nutshell, Starship is a series of massive SpaceX rockets, designed to eventually launch cargo and people to the moon and Mars. If Musk has his way, that could happen within the next three years.

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, along with a handful of artists – have already booked their seats. SpaceX plans to fly Maezawa in an orbit around Earth’s satellite, “within the next two to three years.”

Starhopper was retired in August 2019 after completing its second and final untethered flight. Starhopper had only a single Raptor, which took the craft about 150 metres in the air before landing safely.

Once the final design of Starship is complete, Musk will be one step closer to sending humans to the Moon and Mars, having said in the past that he is planning to send a crewed mission to the moon by 2023.

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