SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sets record for reusability
Falcon 9 lifted off from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Tuesday at 11:38 pm EDT (0338 GMT Sept. 20) carrying SpaceX’s 22 Starlink Internet satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO).
The rocket’s first stage came back down to Earth 8.5 minutes after launch, landing aboard a SpaceX drone docked at sea.
Related: Starlink satellite train: How to see and track it in the night sky
This is the 17th liftoff and landing for the first stage of this Falcon 9, a step SpaceX mission description. Those figures are unprecedented; The previous mark was 16, held by two different Falcon 9 boosters.
Meanwhile, 22 Starlink satellites were launched from the top of the Falcon 9, 62.5 minutes after their scheduled launch.
Tuesday night’s liftoff also extended another record: It was SpaceX’s 65th orbital mission of the year. The company’s previous mark, 61, was set in 2022.
Most of this year’s SpaceX launches have been dedicated to building the Starlink megaconstellation, including the current one. More than 4,700 operational satellites. That number will continue to grow for some time, as SpaceX is authorized to carry 12,000 Starlink craft and has applied for approval for another 30,000.