A SpaceX rocket initiated a new line of Starlink internet satellites into orbit and returned to Earth for a great landing at sea before Wednesday.
The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket crowned with 53 Starlink spacecraft loomed into the Florida morning sky from NASA’s Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. The launch was at 6:59 a.m. EDT (1059 GMT), about 39 minutes later than SpaceX initially planned.
“Falcon 9 has successfully lifted off carrying our 53 Starlink satellites into space,” SpaceX production manager Jessie Anderson announced in a live webcast. The launch commemorated SpaceX’s third Starlink mission five days following missions on May 13 and May 14.
Starlink is SpaceX’s broadband constellation, which nowadays consists of more than 2,300 satellites, according to astrophysicist and satellite tracker Jonathan McDowell. That number has been thriving rapidly recently. SpaceX has undertaken 21 missions already in 2022, and 14 have been assigned Starlink flights as of Wednesday’s launch.
Wednesday’s mission captioned the fifth for this particular Falcon 9 early stage. SpaceX formerly used the rocket booster to launch its Arabsat-6A mission and the Space Test Project-2 flight for the U.S. Space Force together as one of two side boosters on a Falcon Heavy rocket as well as the COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation FM2 satellite for Italy and a former Starlink flight.
Such reuse is a preference for SpaceX and its founder and CEO, Elon Musk, who perceives rapid and considers the flight as the key breakthrough required to make ambitious exploration feats such as Mars settlement economically reasonable.