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SpaceX will use a previously flown Falcon 9 rocket for upcoming Starlink mission

by Evelyn Arevalo January 22, 2020

SpaceX will use a previously flown Falcon 9 rocket for upcoming Starlink mission

Image Source: SpaceX

SpaceX aims to deploy the fourth batch of 60 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit on Friday, January 24. a Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to lift-off at 10:54 a.m. EST from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Starlink is part of SpaceX's plan to fund their space program by offering broadband satellite internet connection services across the globe. SpaceX will use a previously flown Falcon 9 rocket for this Starlink mission.

The company has been developing a reusable rocket launch system in order to reduce manufacturing an operation costs. Developing a rocket reusability system that could make spacecraft as reusable, affordable, and reliable, as flying airplanes or driving cars could completely revolutionize the aerospace industry. SpaceX has accomplished the recovery of a Falcon 9 rocket's first-stage, which significantly saves the company a lot of money. Their current first-stage recovery system involves technologically advanced rocket boosters that have the capacity to use their own nine Merlin 1D engines to lift-off payload into orbit then thrust themselves back from space to land vertically on autonomous droneships at sea or landing pads. In total, SpaceX has landed and recovered a rocket's first stage 48 times -a huge accomplishment in the history of rocketry! Recovering rockets truly became their signature feat!



By recovering rockets, the company can later reutilize them with little refurbishment. Engineers already conducted a static-fire test on the previously flown Falcon 9 rocket that will be reused for this Starlink mission to ensure its working at optimal levels. The rocket booster's first-stage that will be reused on Friday is known as B1051.3 (identifier number) and has flown twice before.



The first flight of Falcon 9 - B1051.1 rocket was during the Crew Dragon spacecraft's first test voyage to the International Space Station, Demo-1. The mission took place on March 2, 2019 from Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Dragon was deployed into orbit as the rocket booster landed flawlessly aboard the autonomous spaceport drone ship called Of Course I Still Love You approximately nine and a half minutes after lift off (video above).



The second flight of B1051.2 took place on June 12, 2019 the Falcon 9 launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, carrying the RADARSAT Constellation, a three-spacecraft fleet of Earth observation satellites operated by a Canadian Space Agency. The three satellites were deployed into a sun-synchronous orbit and the B1051 rocket booster landed at Landing Zone 4 approximately eight minutes after launch (video above).

The same Falcon 9 B1051.3 booster will now be reused a third time during Starlink's launch on Friday. The most a same rocket booster has been used is 4 times, which is a true innovation in the aerospace industry. The upgraded Falcon 9 Block 5 generation of rockets can be used up to 10 times -a reusability count the company hopes to achieve soon.

 




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