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SpaceX sets a booster reuse milestone when Starlink launches



Washington — SpaceX launched a set of Starlink satellites on the Falcon 9 on May 9. The first phase of the Falcon 9 is undergoing its tenth flight, which is one of the company’s long-awaited reusability efforts. the goal.

The Falcon 9 lifted off from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Cosmodrome 40 at 2:42 a.m. Eastern Time. The upper stage of the rocket deployed its 60 Starlink satellite payloads into low-Earth orbit nearly 60 minutes later.

This launch is SpaceX’s third launch in less than two weeks, bringing the total number of Starlink satellites in orbit to 1,550. As the constellation grows, the company is gradually expanding its beta testing program for broadband Internet services. In its launch of the webcast, SpaceX pointed out that it opened the beta test program to people in Austria and France last week.

The launch itself is worth mentioning because it marked the first 1

0 flights of the Falcon 9’s first phase. The booster made its first commercial pilot flight of Demo-1 in March 2019. Subsequently, it launched the Radarsat constellation mission, SiriusXM’s SXM-7 satellite and six Starlink missions, most recently on March 14 before launch.

SpaceX has long identified 10 flights as the goal of Falcon 9 reuse to justify the company’s large investment in reusability. However, in recent months, company executives have suggested that the booster can fly more than 10 times.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said at a NASA press conference held on April 23 after the launch of Crew-2: “The aircraft’s reusability does not seem to have any obvious restrictions.”

The company has been using its own Starlink mission to push the boundaries of booster reuse. Problems have been discovered, such as the launch in February, Starlink’s payload reached orbit, but the booster failed to land. The booster has made its sixth flight, but certain parts of the engine (such as the “boots” or the cover around the engine) are the leaders of life. One of these covers has a hole that allows hot gases in the engine exhaust to enter other parts of the engine, triggering a shutdown and preventing the landing of the platform.

Musk said in the briefing: “We do intend to drive the Falcon 9 booster until we see some kind of malfunction in the Starlink mission, making it a lifeguard.” is coming. “We are learning a lot about reusability. For the Rockets, this is a difficult problem.”

SpaceX has not yet revealed whether it will try to use this booster during its 11th launch, but the successful landing at least preserves this possibility. “This kind of booster is alive again,” said Michael Andrews, the host of SpaceX’s launch of the webcast shortly after landing.


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