SpaceX set a new record for rocket reuse on Friday, November 3. A Falcon 9 rocket launched 23 SpaceX Starlink satellites into orbit from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 9:37 p.m. EDT. This was the 18th mission of the Falcon 9 first stage, according to SpaceX’s mission description.
- According to the Space.com websiteThe Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage returned to Earth for a vertical landing about 8.5 minutes after launch, aboard the drone ship “A Shortfall of Gravitas,” which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean, a few hundred miles off the coast of Florida.
- Meanwhile, the Falcon 9 rocket’s upper stage continued to carry 23 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO).
- The satellites were deployed there about 65.5 minutes after launch.
SpaceX, under the leadership of its billionaire founder and CEO Elon Musk, has always prioritized the reuse of spaceflight hardware, seeing it as a key advance that will enable the colonization of Mars and other ambitious exploration endeavors.
So the company continues to set new records for reuse. The Falcon 9’s previous record of 17 flights was set on September 19 and was tied just four days later.
Many of the Falcon 9 missions are dedicated to expanding Starlink, SpaceX’s massive broadband constellation in low Earth orbit that currently consists of nearly 5,000 operational satellites. For example, the Falcon 9 that flew Friday night has already participated in 12 Starlink missions, according to SpaceX’s mission description.