SpaceX marked another milestone over the weekend with the successful launch of their 67th mission of 2023, positioning themselves well on track to meet their ambitious goal of up to 100 missions this year. On the night of Saturday, September 23rd, the company's Falcon 9 rocket soared into the night sky from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral. What makes this launch particularly noteworthy is that it marked the 17th flight of a Falcon 9 first-stage booster, tying a record for rocket reusability. SpaceX representatives shared engineers' aim to launch each previously-flown booster in its Falcon 9 Block 5 fleet at least 20 times each, the most they have flown a particular booster is 17 times to date.
Liftoff of Falcon 9! pic.twitter.com/uXoIcobVKD— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 24, 2023
The previously-flown booster that performed the Starlink Group 6-18 mission is identified as B1060-17, it had previously served on a diverse range of missions, including launching the United States Space Force GPS III-3 satellite, the Republic of Turkey Turksat 5A communications satellite, and SpaceX's Transporter-2 and Transporter-6 rideshare missions, Intelsat G-33/G-34, and now 12 Starlink missions. Approximately eight minutes after liftoff, B1060-17 gracefully touched down on the 'Just Read the Instructions' droneship stationed about 675 kilometers downrange in the Atlantic Ocean. This marked SpaceX's 228th successful landing of an orbital-class rocket and the 200th instance of reusing a recovered booster, a testament to the company's commitment to reducing the cost of space access through reusability.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship, the second booster in our fleet with 17 launches and landings pic.twitter.com/b6USZIjwx7— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 24, 2023
The primary payload for this mission was the deployment of 22 Starlink V2 Mini satellites into low-Earth orbit. These advanced satellites offer four times the bandwidth of their predecessors and represent the 21st launch of the V2 Mini Starlink satellites. SpaceX's Starlink constellation continues to grow at a rapid pace, with a total of 5,157 Starlink satellites launched and approximately 4,807 still operational in orbit, according to data compiled by astronomer Jonathan McDowell. This constellation is already revolutionizing global internet access, serving over 1.5 million subscribers worldwide, highlighting the transformative impact of SpaceX's innovative approach to satellite internet connectivity.
As SpaceX engineers aim to extend the reusability of their Falcon 9 boosters to at least 20 flights each, the company's commitment to pushing the boundaries of space technology remains unwavering.
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Featured Images 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.