SpaceX has been placing satellites in orbit for some time to enlarge the constellation of Starlink satellites. The beta version of the service is available to users in many areas. Early on Sunday morning, May 9, 2021, SpaceX launched another Falcon 9 rocket into orbit, filled with 60 Starlink satellites. The launch went smoothly and SpaceX successfully recovered the first stage rocket on its drone ship at sea.
With the successful mission, SpaceX has set another record, performing the 10th flight with a single reusable rocket amplifier. Launch began in Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Station at 2:42 a.m. EDT. SpaceX’s launch marked the company’s 14th launch this year. This particular booster flew for its 10th attempt to fly and land.
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, posted on Twitter ahead of the launch, noting that this was the first time a Falcon rocket booster had made double-digit flights. The launch also marked the second time SpaceX sent a pair of Falcon 9 rockets into space that same week, each carrying 60 Starlink broadband satellites.
SpaceX found that about nine minutes after launch, the first stage returned to Earth with a successful touchdown on the drone ship “Just Read the Instructions”. In 2020, SpaceX launched 26 record-breaking rockets, and with 14 launches already on the books by 2021, the company is on track to hit or beat that record.
It is also interesting that every launch in 2021 was carried out with missiles that had flown before. Even the Crew 2 mission earlier this year started with a previously flown missile to the ISS. SpaceX currently has 1,440 Starlink satellites in orbit and plans to launch thousands more.