SpaceX is rapidly deploying its broadband constellation to space. The company conducted its 27th Starlink mission during the predawn hours today, May 9. The launch comes after SpaceX completed the 26th satellite deployment a week ago. A previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket conducted a record-breaking 10th flight as it lifted off at 2:42 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. SpaceX engineers’ goal is to reuse every booster in its Falcon 9 [Block 5] fleet at least 10 times, they finally reached the milestone. It is the first time SpaceX reuses a particular Falcon 9 booster 10 times, which is a great accomplishment in the aerospace industry that is plagued with boosters that are often single-use, discarded soon after launch. SpaceX created a reliable rocket recovery system that has enabled the launch provider to reduce the cost of spaceflight by reusing first-stage boosters.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/MZ4ct2Spnj— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 9, 2021
The veteran Falcon 9 booster that lifted off today is identified as production number B1051-10; It previously launched SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft first demonstration mission to the International Space Station, then it launched the RADARSAT Mission, as well as the SXM-7 satellite for SiriusXM Radio, and six previous Starlink missions. This morning B1051-10 launched a fleet of 60 more Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit during its 10th flight. The booster was recovered once again, around 9-minutes after propelling the internet-beaming satellites to space B1051-10 landed on the ‘Just Read The Instructions’ autonomous drone ship situated 613-kilometers downrange in the Atlantic Ocean. It marked the booster’s 10th landing and SpaceX’s 83rd landing of an orbital-class rocket. “SpaceX's first reuse of an orbital class rocket was on the SES-10 mission way back in March of 2017,” SpaceX supply chain supervisor Michael Andrews said during the Live broadcast of the mission, “We've certainly come a long way since then,” he said. To date, SpaceX has completed 63 reused flights.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship, completing this booster’s 10th launch and landing! pic.twitter.com/8KeEAfHgWF— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 9, 2021
Approximately an hour after liftoff, the fleet of 60 satellites were released to orbit by Falcon 9’s upper-stage - increasing the constellation size to around 1,625 satellites. SpaceX already operates the largest broadband satellite constellation in the world. In the weeks ahead, each flat-panel satellite will unfurl its single solar panel array and rise into a higher operational altitude. To move, each satellite is equipped with krypton-powered ion thrusters that will take the satellites into an altitude of around 550-kilometers above Earth. Overall, the constellation will be made up of over 4,400 satellites that will connect the entire world to the internet. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said that ‘near-global’ broadband coverage will be achieved after 28 Starlink missions. The company is one launch away to achieving this milestone and is already providing beta service to over ten thousand customers. The internet service is available to pre-order via Starlink.com.
Deployment of 60 Starlink satellites confirmed pic.twitter.com/RarbrcfUml— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 9, 2021
Featured Image Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.