For the second time, the SpaceX Falcon 9’s booster has completed its eleventh launch, spaceflight and landing — helping deliver dozens of new Starlink satellites into orbit in the process.
After a one-day delay due to “recovery weather,” the Falcon 9 Booster B1058 took off with 46 Starlink 4-8 satellites on February 21. The ballistic missile performed as well as expected, boosting the Falcon 9 upper stage and Starlink payload above the majority of Earth’s atmosphere, skipping hundreds of miles down, and eventually landing aboard the A Shortfall of Gravitas (ASOG) drone ship after less than Nine minutes from takeoff. The single-use mission’s upper stage performance was also nominal and it completed two burns of its Merlin Vacuum Engine before spinning and launching its satellite deck like a deck of cards.
For the B1058, the mission has been its 11th class launch and landing since May 2020, when it became the first American or SpaceX-made rocket to launch astronauts since 2011. Each of the booster launches has sent it ashore for more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) above Earth’s surface – a somewhat arbitrary internationally agreed distinction between the atmosphere and “space”.
In one of the most impressive displays of orbital-grade reusability in spaceflight history, the Falcon 9 B1058 completed these 11 launches in 21 months, averaging one launch every 57.5 days for the better part of two years. However, it is said that a different Falcon 9 booster could barely break that record a week from now.
SpaceX has at least two additional launches scheduled over the next two weeks. The Starlink 4-11 could be launched from the company’s California panel as early as 7:40 a.m. PT (15:40 UTC), on February 25, and expected to use Falcon 9 Booster B1063, which will fly for the fourth time. accordingly, as early as possible ~1 p.m. EDT (18:00 UTC), March 3 The Falcon 9 B1060 is scheduled to launch on Starlink 4-9, becoming SpaceX’s third booster (after B1051 and B1058) to perform eleven orbital-class launches.
Barring weeks of delay, the B1060 will outperform the B1058 average for one launch every 57.5 days, firing 11 times in just over 20 months or once every 55.5 days. It will likely be at least half a year until SpaceX’s next booster (B1061) crosses the 10 or 11 flight mark.
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