SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches Starlink satellites on record-breaking 19th mission (Image Credit: Space.com)
SpaceX has broken its rocket-reuse record yet again.
It was the 19th liftoff for this particular Falcon 9 first stage, according to a SpaceX mission description, setting a new reusability mark for the company.
As planned, the Falcon 9’s first stage came back to Earth for the 19th time, landing about 8.5 minutes after it launched on the drone ship Just Read the Instructions, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast.
The Falcon 9’s upper stage, meanwhile, continued hauling the 23 Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit (LEO). The spacecraft were set to be deployed there about 65.5 minutes after liftoff.
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk wants to help humanity colonize Mars and achieve a variety of other ambitious exploration feats. Rocket reusability is a key part of this vision, helping to cut the cost of spaceflight and increase its cadence.
So SpaceX’s reuse records don’t tend to last long. The previous mark — 18 flights for a Falcon 9 booster — was set just last month.
SpaceX has launched more than 90 orbital missions so far in 2023. Most of them have been dedicated to building out its Starlink broadband megaconstellation, which currently consists of nearly 5,200 operational satellites.