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SpaceX launches 60 more satellites and sets Falcon 9 record

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SpaceX Falcon 9 launched another set of Starlink satellites in a launch that highlighted an often overlooked aspect of the company’s reuse efforts. Falcon 9 took off from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and launched its payload of 60 Starlink satellites in orbit 64 minutes later.

A portion of the rocket landed on a droneship ship in the Atlantic, eight and a half minutes after takeoff. In contrast to some recent Starlink releases, where Falcon 9 boosters have been launched up to 10 times, this first stage of Falcon 9 was only on its second release.

SpaceX established a different type of reuse milestone in this release. One of the two halves of the payload fairing was on its fifth flight, the first time that a section of cargo fairing had flown five times. Half of the fairing flew in four previous Starlink launches dated 2019. The second half of the fairing was in its third launch, having previously been used in a Starlink launch and in the rideshare Transporter-1 mission in January.

SpaceX launches 60 more satellites and sets Falcon 9 record

The launch was also the Falcon 9’s 40th mission to fly at least half of the reused payload fairing. The company has discreetly made regular use of previously flown payload fairings, which fire parachutes after the rocket’s upper stage has been separated and are recovered in the ocean by boats.

SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk said several years ago that the company would try to recover and reuse cargo fairings because of its expenses: about $ 6 million each. “Imagine if you had $ 6 million in cash on a pallet flying through the air and it crashed into the ocean. Would you try to recover that? Yes, yes, you would, ”said Musk in 2017, after the company launched its first reused Falcon 9, not to mention environmental issues.

This launch also marked the 100th consecutive launch of Falcon 9, a sequel that started after a launch failure in June 2015 on a NASA commercial cargo mission. This sequence does not include the loss of the Amos-6 satellite when a Falcon 9 exploded during preparations for a test in September 2016.

The launch brings the total number of Starlink satellites in orbit to 1,737, with the SpaceX CEO already saying that 1680 orbiting satellites would be enough for Starlink to offer global coverage to its users.

Currently, the Starlink beta service has about 10,000 customers, as recently reported and we already know that there are plans for the satellite internet service to be available this year in Portugal. Musk’s ambition for his Starlink business is to create a high-speed Internet service via satellite that extends all over the world and provides connection to rural and underserved communities, having recently signed an excellent deal for its internet platform with Google, which also uses the satellite internet service for its cloud service.

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