SpaceX has had a busy 2021 so far – not only did it successfully land a Starship prototype for the first time (following failures with earlier models), it also launched a host of Starlink satellites into space, successfully launched the manned Crew-2 mission with NASA, and bagged a $2.9-billion deal from NASA.
On Sunday, Elon Musk’s visionary space company kept up the good work, deploying yet another batch of 60 Starlink satellites into space.
Sunday saw favorable weather conditions around Cape Canaveral. “It is possible that there will be some cumulus clouds out over the water during the launch attempt,” the 45th Weather Squadron said. “At this time, these clouds do not appear to pose a significant threat for liftoff.”
What makes Sunday’s launch all the more significant is that the satellites were launched using a 229-foot tall Falcon 9 rocket, dubbed B1051, for a record 10th time. This is the same rocket that previously launched Crew Dragon’s first demonstration mission to the International Space Station, the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, SXM-7, and six Starlink missions. It is also the 27th mission for the Starlink constellation, which currently consists of some 1,500-plus satellites. Starlink has already been in high demand, and Space X said that it has received about 500,000 pre-orders in regions ranging from the high latitudes of North America to Europe and the United Kingdom.
“First time a Falcon rocket booster will reach double digits in flights,” Musk tweeted on Saturday before the launch.
The liftoff occurred without any major hitch, and the 162-foot first stage separated approximately nine minutes after liftoff, landing on the drone ship ‘Just Read the Instructions’, which will take it back for checkouts and refurbishment. The Falcon 9 is equipped with nine Merlin engines as well. The satellites were deployed without any trouble after an hour of liftoff, and they will be joining the other Starlink satellites already in orbit using their onboard ion thrusters over the next few weeks, after separating themselves from each other. This is the second instance of SpaceX launching a fleet of Starlink satellites into space this week, after the launch on Tuesday.
If you, like me, wish to join the Starlink beta program, head to Starlink.com to sign up.