SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches record 12th mission, lands on ship at sea
A SpaceX Falcon 9 the rocket flew for an unprecedented 12th time on Saturday March 19 and returned to Earth for another successful landing.
The two-stage Falcon 9 lifted off from the Cape Canaveral space station in Florida on Saturday at 12:42 a.m. EDT (0442 GMT), carrying 53 SpaceX aircraft. Stellar Link Internet satellites to low earth orbit.
It was the 12th launch of this Falcon 9 first stage, setting a new record for SpaceX rocket reuse. The thruster previously launched the RADARSAT Constellation mission for the Canadian Space Agency in June 2019; SpaceX’s first crewed flight, the Demo mission-2 to the International Space Station, in May 2020; the SXM-7 satellite for SiriusXM in December 2020; and eight other Starlink missions, SpaceX representatives wrote in a job description.
Related: SpaceX’s Starlink megaconstellation launches in photos
The first stage also made its 12th successful landing, coming in for an accurate touchdown about nine minutes after takeoff from the Just Read The Instructions droneship, which was parked in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.
The second stage continued to carry all 53 Starlink spacecraft to their designated orbit, deploying them all about an hour after liftoff.
Prior to today’s mission, SpaceX had launched 2,282 Starlink satellites, of which 2,033 are currently operational, according to astrophysicist and satellite tracker Jonathan McDowell.
The broadband constellation provides service to customers around the world, including in Ukraine, whose communications infrastructure was damaged by invading Russian forces. SpaceX has Starlink terminals sent and other materials to the war-torn nation, a decision that was applauded by grateful Ukrainian government officials.
The Starlink network is not done growing, as shown by the launch on Saturday morning. SpaceX wants it to get much bigger, in fact: the company has permission to launch 12,000 Starlink satellites, and it has sought approval from an international regulator to launch 30,000 more on top of that.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 1:00 a.m. EDT (05:00 GMT) on March 19 with news of the rocket’s successful launch and landing, then again at 2:09 a.m. EDT (06:09 GMT) with news. news of the satellite deployment.
Mike Wall is the author of “The low(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom Or on Facebook.