SpaceX successfully launched its latest mission from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday evening.
The mission sent an Indonesian communications satellite to orbit using a Falcon 9 booster on its 12th flight. The rocket blasted off the launchpad at 6:21 p.m. ET following a delay of 15 minutes due to strong winds.
Just over eight minutes after launch, the first-stage booster returned safely to Earth, making a perfect landing on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship that was waiting in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Florida.
About 37 minutes after launch, the SATRIA-1 satellite was successfully deployed to orbit.
The first-stage booster supporting Sunday’s mission previously launched CRS-22, Crew-3, Turksat 5B, Crew-4, CRS-25, Eutelsat HOTBIRD 13G, O3b mPOWER, and four Starlink missions, further proving SpaceX’s ability to build and operate a reusable rocket system. While this was the booster’s 12th flight, SpaceX currently has two other Falcon 9 boosters sharing a record 15 flights each. SpaceX also recently achieved its 200th landing of an orbital class rocket.
Besides satellite launches, SpaceX also uses its Falcon 9 flight system for cargo and crewed flights to the International Space Station, and has also used its workhorse rocket for a private flight with nonprofessional astronauts in a three day Earth-orbiting mission in 2021.
SpaceX also developed the Falcon Heavy rocket for missions where more power is needed to lift satellites into orbit. The Falcon Heavy uses three Falcon 9 boosters, with at least two of them usually brought back to Earth and refurbished for reuse.
The company led by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk is now developing the Super Heavy rocket and Starship spacecraft, collectively known as the Starship.
The first test flight took place in April, but the rocket failed to reach orbit after it exploded in midair. Once the Starship has been fully developed, it will be used for NASA missions to the moon and possibly to Mars. Both the Super Heavy and Starship are designed for reuse, though much work will be needed to reach the reliability level of the Falcon 9.
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