SpaceX has deployed its fifteenth batch of Starlink satellites, with a launch taking place on Saturday, October 24 at 11:31 a.m. ET from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. A Falcon 9 rocket carried a batch of 60 satellites to add to the growing Starlink constellation satellite network which will eventually provide global broadband internet access.
The first stage booster of the Falcon 9 was caught by the droneship “Just Read the Instructions,” stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
This marks SpaceX’s 100th successful launch since the company launched its first Falcon 1 to orbit in 2008. This includes 95 Falcon 9 launches, three Falcon Heavy launches, and two Falcon 1 launches.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 24, 2020
Over these 100 launches, SpaceX has made impressive strides in improving the reusability of its rockets, getting better and better at catching first-stage rocket boosters for reuse and even starting to sometimes catch and reuse other parts as well such as payload fairings. Out of 100 successful launches, the company has caught the first stage booster 63 times, allowing boosters to be reused 45 times.
“SpaceX believes that fully and rapidly reusable rockets are the pivotal breakthrough needed to dramatically reduce the cost of access to space to enable people to travel to and live on other planets,” the company said in a statement. “While most rockets are expendable after launch — akin to throwing away an airplane after a one-way trip from Los Angeles to New York — SpaceX is working toward a future in which reusable rockets are the norm.”
As well as its much-used Falcon 9 rocket, which SpaceX says is now the most-flown operational rocket in the United States, the company is also forging ahead with the development of its Starship rocket for super heavy lift. The idea is to use the Starship for missions to the Moon and eventually to Mars. The development of the latest prototype, the SN8, is continuing with a recent static fire test. The company plans to before another static fire test before attempting a hop test, in which the rocket rises from the ground.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said he aims for Starship to reach orbit next year, potentially sending a Starship to Mars as early as 2024.
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