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Watch SpaceX Falcon 9 engine burn against orbital sunset backdrop

SpaceX has released remarkable footage showing one of its rocket engines burning against the beautiful backdrop of an orbital sunset.

The video (below) was captured during Wednesday night’s launch to deploy a Swedish broadband satellite as part of the Ovzon 3 mission from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and shows the Merlin vacuum engine on the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage as it powers the payload to orbit.

Merlin Vacuum engine burning to orbit during sunset

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 4, 2024

SpaceX also shared a set of stunning images from the mission that show the Falcon 9 lifting off, as well as the safe return of the first-stage booster.

Falcon 9 launches the @OvzonAB Ovzon 3 mission to orbit, first stage booster returns to Earth

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 4, 2024

And here’s footage showing the Falcon 9 lifting off at the start of the mission:


— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 3, 2024

Eight minutes after launch, the first-stage of the Falcon 9 rocket performed a perfect landing back at base:

Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on Landing Zone 1

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 3, 2024

This was the 10th flight of this particular first-stage booster, which previously launched CRS-26, OneWeb Launch 16, Intelsat IS-40e, O3b mPOWER, and five Starlink missions. The successful landing marked the 261st recovery of an orbital class rocket for SpaceX, whose goal has always been to reduce the cost of spaceflight by creating a reusable spaceflight system.

At the current time, the most number of missions flown by a single Falcon 9 first-stage booster is 19, achieved by Booster 1058 on December 23. The vehicle was destined to be used again, but after landing safely on a droneship off the coast of Florida, it toppled over in rough seas as it returned to land, causing part of it to fall overboard.

Wednesday’s mission was SpaceX’s first from the Kennedy Space Center in 2024 and the second of the year after a launch earlier on Wednesday from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California as part of a mission to deploy more Starlink satellites for SpaceX’s internet-from-space service.

The Elon Musk-led spaceflight company achieved just shy of 100 Falcon rocket launches in 2023 — a record for SpaceX — with 2024 expected to see the company achieve more than 100 launches for the first time since its founding 22 years ago.

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Trevor Mogg
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