Skip to main content

SpaceX sets new record with Falcon 9 booster flying for 12th time

SpaceX set a new record for reuse of a rocket booster this week when it used a Falcon 9 booster for its 12th mission. The booster was used as part of the company’s Starlink launch which carried 53 satellites into orbit to join the Starlink satellite constellation.

Starlink Mission

The launch went ahead early on Saturday morning, at 12:42 a.m. ET on March 19 (21:42 p.m. PT on Friday, March 18) from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The 53 Starlink satellites were carried into low-Earth orbit by a Falcon 9, with the first stage booster marking its 12th launch and landing. This is the most times that a single booster has been reused to date, as SpaceX shared on Twitter.

This is the first time a Falcon 9 first stage has launched and landed 12 times!

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 19, 2022

The booster had previously been used on nine other Starlink missions, as well as the RADARSAT Constellation mission, and the famous Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission which was the first crewed demonstration of SpaceX’s new crew capsule in 2020.

With the launch of the 53 Starlink satellites, which were successfully deployed into orbit, the total number of Starlink satellites is now at over 2,300. These satellites work together to form a network that provides global broadband internet access via the Starlink program, which is currently in beta and is available in 29 countries. Customers purchase a special dish to access the service, which can then provide internet access even in remote or out of the way areas.

The hope is that such satellite internet services could provide internet to rural areas which are currently under-served by internet providers. Starlink has also been used to provide internet in emergency situations, such as after the eruption of the volcano in Tonga or during the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine.

However, the Starlink service and others like it have been controversial among the astronomy community. Researchers have found that having such a high number of satellites in low-Earth orbit can interfere with scientific observations due to sunlight reflecting off the satellites and radio interference. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has previously said he will work with the astronomy community to lessen the impact of the Starlink satellites on observations, including experimenting with darker coatings for the satellites and changing their positions so they reflect less sunlight.

Editors' Recommendations

Georgina Torbet
Georgina is the Digital Trends space writer, covering human space exploration, planetary science, and cosmology. She…
A SpaceX rocket just set a new flight record
A SpaceX Falcon 9 booster launching for the 21st time in May 2024.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 booster launches for the 21st time in May 2024. SpaceX

SpaceX has launched and landed a first-stage Falcon 9 booster for a record 21st time.

Read more
Watch SpaceX stack Starship rocket ahead of fourth test flight
SpaceX's Starship rocket being stacked for its fourth test flight.

SpaceX chief Elon Musk shared a video on Thursday showing the Starship rocket being stacked on the launchpad ahead of its fourth test flight.

The footage (below), which has been sped up, shows the spacecraft section being placed atop the booster at SpaceX’s Starbase launch facility in Boca Chica, Texas. The fully stacked vehicle stands a colossal 120 meters tall.

Read more
SpaceX facing FAA review of Starship launches from Kennedy
SpaceX's Starship rocket lifting off in November 2023.

SpaceX currently launches the Starship -- the most powerful rocket ever built -- from its Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, but it also wants to launch it from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

For that to happen, its plans will first have to be cleared by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) by way of an environmental review, the agency announced on Friday.

Read more