SpaceX’s previously aborted Starlink mission took off successfully today. And while it has become usual for the Elon Musk aerospace company to deliver successes, the company broke its own record today by using the same Falcon 9 rocket for the fifth time. Falcon 9’s first stage previously supported the Iridium-7 NEXT mission in July 2018, the SAOCOM 1A mission in October 2018, the Nusantara Satu mission in February 2019, and the second launch of Starlink in November 2019.
Falcon 9’s fairing previously supported the first launch of Starlink in May 2019.
Despite the success though, the mission came up with its own failures as well. The primary mission of deploying the satellites was complete, however the secondar mission of recovering the Falcon 9 booster for re-use, failed. SpaceX also attempted to recover the fairing once it fell away from the cargo and returned to Earth. The idea was to catch both halves using two ships positioned at sea and equipped with nets. However, the attempt failed. Nevertheless, both faring halves were recovered “quickly” from the ocean where they landed.
While there was limited failure and the mission was mostly successful, Musk still tweeted that “thorough investigation [is] needed before next mission.”
Last launch aborted due to slightly high power. Possibly, but not obviously, related to today. This vehicle has seen a lot of wear, so today isn’t a big surprise. Life leader rockets are used only for internal missions. Won’t risk non-SpaceX satellites.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 18, 2020
SpaceX did try to attempt a launch this Sunday, before it was auto-aborted by the flight computers due to an engine power issue. That scrub off could be linked to today’s recovery failure. And Musk did not rule out that possibility, mentioning more detailed investigation from the SpaceX team will be required to find out what exactly happened.