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SpaceX all set for a record-breaking rocket launch on Friday

UPDATE: SpaceX set a new record on Friday night by launching and landing a Falcon 9 booster for the 20th time. The original article is included below SpaceX’s update on the mission:

Since its first mission in November 2020, this single first stage has launched eight astronauts and more than 500 satellites, totaling 261+ metric tons to orbit in under four years

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 13, 2024

Original article: SpaceX will launch and land one of its Falcon 9 boosters for a record 20th time on Friday, highlighting once again the success of the company’s reusable rocket system.

Booster 1062, which took its first flight in November 2020, will lift off from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Friday, April 12, on a mission to deploy 23 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit.

A live webcast of the record-breaking flight will begin on X (formerly Twitter) at 9:17 p.m. ET, about five minutes before liftoff.

Those tuning in will witness the Falcon 9 rocket climb into the sky for a record 20th time, along with stage separation and the deployment of SpaceX’s internet satellites. The webcast will also show the first-stage booster landing upright on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship in the Atlantic Ocean about eight minutes after launch, a feat that will pave the way for the rocket’s 21st flight.

A backup opportunity for Friday’s mission is available on Saturday should the targeted flight schedule require adjustment for any reason.

Booster 1062 last flew on March 16 and also holds the record for the fastest turnaround at 21 days following a flight on April 8, 2022. The rocket has previously launched GPS III Space Vehicle 04, GPS III Space Vehicle 05, the crewed Inspiration4 and Ax-1 flights, Nilesat 301, OneWeb Launch 17, ARABSAT BADR-8, and 12 Starlink missions.

Three other first-stage boosters have also flown 19 times, and so Booster 1062’s record could be short-lived if engineers select any of those others for multiple flights in the coming months.

SpaceX’s reuse of the first-stage booster, Crew Dragon and Dragon spacecraft, and rocket fairing has allowed it to cut the cost of spaceflight and increase flight frequency, thereby increasing space access for more companies and organizations.

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Trevor Mogg
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