SpaceX has launched yet another Starlink mission, adding 60 more Starlink satellites to its low-Earth orbit constellation. That’s good news for its efforts to blanket the globe in high-speed broadband, and today’s flight is even better news for its equally important ambition of developing more reusable rocket systems, since the first-stage booster that helped launch today’s Falcon 9 rocket made a record-breaking seventh trip.
SpaceX broke its own reusability records of six flights for a reused first-stage rocket component, and it also recovered the booster with a controlled landing using its drone flight in the Atlantic Ocean, which means it could potentially break this record with yet another future flight for this same booster.
Today’s launch took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, lifting off at 9:13 PM EST (6:13 PM PST). The flight also used a fairing cover to protect the payload on its way to space that had flown previously, including one half that’s flown one prior mission, and another that’s been used twice.
SpaceX aims for greater usability as a way to continue to reduce costs — every time it flies a component used in a previous mission, it realizes some degree of cost savings versus using all new parts. Today’s mission represents likely its most cost-effective flight to date as a result.
This is SpaceX’s sixteenth Starlink mission thus far, and it has now launched nearly 1,000 total small satellites for its constellation. The service is currently operating in beta, and recently expanded from parts of the U.S. to areas in southern Canada.