On July 15, SpaceX is a leader in aerospace innovation and is making history with its spacecraft and rocket reusability ability. This week, the company reused a Falcon 9 rocket a 16th time for the second time during the Starlink Group 5-15 mission which launched a fleet of 54 Starlink V1.5 satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The flight-proven rocket lifted off at 11:50 p.m. ET from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Base in Florida. The company has now reused two previously-flown Falcon 9 first-stage boosters 16 times, which is a remarkable achievement given that rockets throughout all of history have been only used once and discarded. Reusing spacecraft and rockets enables more cost-effective flights to orbit and beyond.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/JAYJnosbVZ— SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 16, 2023
SpaceX aims to reuse each booster in its Falcon 9 Block 5 fleet at least 20 times. The first-stage booster that launched the Starlink Group 5-15 mission is identified as B1060-16, it previously launched: the U.S. Space Force’s GPS III-3 satellite, Turkey’s Turksat 5A military satellite, SpaceX’s Transporter-2 and Transporter-6 rideshare missions, Intelsat G-33/G-34, and now 11 Starlink missions. Approximately 8-minutes after liftoff, the booster performed a propulsive landing for the 16th time on the ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas’ autonomous spaceport drone ship which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX has launched a total of 246 missions, recovered a total of 207 orbital-class rockets, and reused boosters 180 times. Read more: From Pages to the Stars: SpaceX's Homage to the ‘Culture’ Book Series by Iain M. Banks
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship pic.twitter.com/huAzkLXlEA— SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 16, 2023
The fleet of 54 Starlink V1.5 (first-generation) satellites was released by Falcon 9’s upper-stage around an hour after liftoff. The satellites in this Group 5-15 fleet will operate at an altitude of around 560 kilometers above Earth. This launch increased the Starlink constellation size to 4,485 internet-beaming satellites in LEO. SpaceX is actively providing high-speed internet to over 1.5 million subscribers globally.
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Featured Image Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
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.