SpaceX Falcon 9 Booster Returns to Earth for the Hundredth Time, Deploying 46 More Starlink Satellites
On February 21, Elon Musk's SpaceX reached another another
milestone. After putting its payload into orbit, it successfully landed a
Falcon 9 rocket for the 100th time. At 8:14 p.m. IST, the rocket lifted off
from Florida, carrying 46 Starlink satellites. The rocket's first stage
(booster) returned to Earth around nine minutes later for a vertical landing on
a SpaceX drone ship, A Shortfall of Gravitas (ASOG), stationed a few hundred
kilometers off the Florida coast. The successful return marked the 100th time
SpaceX was able to recover the first stage of a Falcon 9 for future reuse.
By launching the world's first orbital-class rocket capable
of re-flight, SpaceX has made history. The rocket, known as Falcon 9, made its
first test flight in June 2010. With Falcon 9 and its reusability, Elon Musk's
company can provide lower-cost solutions to enterprises seeking access to
So far, SpaceX has launched 140 Falcon 9 rockets
and landed 100 of them.
With the latest launch, SpaceX has also moved a step closer
to its ambition of providing low-latency broadband Internet access around the
world. In a tweet an hour after the launch, the business confirmed the
placement of Starlink satellites.
So far this year, SpaceX has launched three Starlink
satellites. Two were launched in January, and one in February. However, on
February 3, the mission was disrupted by a solar explosion that caused a
geomagnetic storm. At least 40 of the 49 satellites deployed as part of that
program were damaged by the storm.
As part of the Starlink project, the business hopes to
eventually manage a constellation of more than 12,000 satellites in low-Earth
orbit. While the damage to 40 satellites may appear insignificant in comparison
to the hundreds planned, it would nevertheless require SpaceX to launch one
more Falcon than previously planned.