SpaceX has just launched a new shipment of Starlink satellites from Florida, using one of its launch vehicles for the eighth time.
SpaceX, which had just completed its 2020 mission, had completed at least 26 successful launches, exceeding the previous record of 21 launches in 2018, and had just completed its second mission of 2021.
About eight minutes after the launch, the B1051 launcher then returned to land at sea to its Just Read the Instruments platform, deployed in the Atlantic Ocean, marking the 72nd restoration of the first stage of the SpaceX missile.
Eight flights per accelerator
More importantly, this mission will also be the eighth flight of this accelerator. Never before has the first stage of the rocket flown so much. Remember that SpaceX is planning to achieve a tenfold reuse of at least one Falcon 9 accelerator at the end of this year.
The B1051 had previously brought the drone Crew Dragon into space as part of a test mission in 2019, and was subsequently deployed for three Earth observation satellites for Canada, as well as for four different Starlink missions.
This new launch is also remarkable because this launch vehicle made its last flight on 13 December, 38 days earlier. Again, it is a record. It is indeed an average of 51 days for the Falcon 9 missile to rotate. In other words, SpaceX reuses more, but also faster, its first stages of the missile, thereby obtaining an additional competitive advantage.
This was the 16th "acting" Starlink satellite launch, already created as the world's largest satellite operator, which now brings the total number of such satellites to over 1,000, some of which are no longer operational and have already been de-orbited.
Remember that SpaceX has already started beta testing its Internet service in North America. This initial phase of testing has shown that the service is reliable. British users will also soon be able to join these tests. The company was licensed to start operations in the UK last year, thanks to the local telecommunications regulator of Offcom.
In 2021, the number of Falcon 9 launches is also expected to increase further, thanks to the deployment of Starlink satellites, while the company will continue to send astronauts to ISS in cooperation with NASA.