SpaceX launches 23 satellites, completing 260th reflight of an orbital class rocket

April 1, 2024 | by magnews24.com

March 31 (UPI) — Elon Musk‘s SpaceX launched 23 satellites into low-Earth orbit on Saturday, completing the company’s 260th re-flight of an orbital class rocket seven years after first achieving the act.

This means the company has successfully launched and landed a first-stage booster of a rocket like its Falcon 9 at least 260 times. The first stage of a rocket is the largest and most expensive part of it, and SpaceX has designed its Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage to perform controlled descents back to landing pads or drone ships to be reused — significantly reducing the cost of launching payloads into space.

“The design intent is that the rocket can be re-flown with zero hardware changes,” Musk said in 2017, referring to the Falcon 9 first stage. The Falcon 9 rocket first launched in June 2010. “In other words, the only thing that changes is, you reload propellant.”

At the time, Musk said a single Falcon 9 rocket could be reflown at least 100 times, adding: “Actually, really, we could make 1,000, but it probably isn’t quite there. I’m being careful.” The most number of times a single first-stage booster has flown stands at 16 times.

Still, the feat was celebrated by SpaceX fans, who joked that the rocket “seems safer than a Boeing.”

For the second launch from the Space Coast this evening, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 23 Starlink satellites on mission 6-45 from Launch Complex 40 at 9:30 PM from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida on Saturday March 30, 2024. .Photo by Joe Marino/UPI

For the second launch from the Space Coast this evening, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 23 Starlink satellites on mission 6-45 from Launch Complex 40 at 9:30 PM from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida on Saturday March 30, 2024. .Photo by Joe Marino/UPI

That launch came just three hours after SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Eutelsat 36D geostationary telecommunications satellite, which will provide TV broadcasting and government services to customers in Africa, Europe and parts of Asia.

About three minutes into launch, Falcon 9 separated from the payload and touched down aboard the droneship Just Read the Instructions in the Atlantic Ocean at 6:01 p.m., marking the 259th reflight of a Falcon 9 rocket.

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