A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched another batch of 60 Starlink internet satellites into space's orbit on Mar. 14. The rocket was able to nail its landing at sea.
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch
Falcon 9 rocket is the first in SpaceX's fleet to launch and to land nine times. The two-stage launcher blasted off from Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 6:01 a.m. EDT, according to New13.
Around 9 minutes later, the reusable rocket's first stage returned to Earth to attempt its 9th landing on SpaceX's drone ship called "Of Course I Still Love You," stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
The flight came days after SpaceX's last launch, where a different Falcon 9 rocket took off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Both missions delivered a full stack of 60 Starlink satellites to orbit, helping SpaceX inch closer to filling its goal of having 1,440 satellites in orbit.
As the Falcon 9 lit up the night sky in Florida, the weather forecasters at the 45th Weather Squadron predicted ideal weather conditions for launch. The only concerns were the potential for cumulus clouds.
However, there was not a cloud in the sky as people could view the rocket blast into orbit.
The sky makes for amazing atmospheric effects. The sun illuminated the rocket's plume below the horizon, creating a dazzling space jellyfish in the sky. This kind of effect only happens at dawn and dusk.
The launches are usually confused with UFO because of the shape of the clouds that were produced. The booster named B1051 is one of the two in SpaceX's stable reusable rockets, with more than seven flights recorded under its name.
The first one flew in Mar. 2019, lofting an uncrewed Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station or ISS as part of a demonstration mission.
After the first mission, B1051 traveled cross-country to launch three satellites for Canada from SpaceX's facilities at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
According to CNET, the B1051 flew a total of 5 times from Florida in 2020, carrying five different Starlink missions and a broadband satellite for Sirius XM.
SpaceX 2021 mission
After its last flight on Jan. 20, SpaceX engineers were able to turn around the booster and prepare for the 9th flight in just 53 days--this is the second-fastest turnaround time for B1051.
B1051's counterpart, B1049, has eight flights under its belt, with the most recent flight recorded on Mar.4 after days of delays because of the weather and the need for more prelaunch checkouts.
SpaceX developed its Falcon 9 rocket to fly up to 10 times with almost no refurbishments between flights. As the two boosters approach the 10-flight limit, SpaceX monitors the wear and tear each receives during a flight.
A disposable fleet of rockets allows SpaceX to keep up with its fast launch cadence. But SpaceX officials have stressed that while B1051's recovery is a plus, the main goal is to deliver the satellites to space.
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Written by Sieeka Khan