Innovation

Watch SpaceX's Falcon 9 complete a landmark mission

SpaceX’s Starlink mission on Sunday, May 9 was more than just another satellite deployment; it also marked a new milestone for reusable Falcon 9 rockets.

SpaceX

PATRICK LANDMANN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

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MARK GARLICK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

This launch was just the latest in a rush of recent deployments, as Starlink is building a network capable of moving from its current beta state to full service.

SpaceX

What makes this particular launch so interesting isn’t the payload — it’s the rocket itself.

SpaceX

It was the 10th launch for the Falcon 9 first stage booster that carried the satellites to space, setting a new reuse record for SpaceX.

NASA

The same booster has flown a Crew Dragon demonstration, propelled seven batches of Starlink satellites into orbit, and launched RADARSAT and Sirius XM satellites into space.

SpaceX

For a rocket to be reused, it has to land gently rather than crashing into the ocean.

SpaceX

SpaceX

The first successful Falcon 9 landing came in December 2015. Just over a year later, in March 2017, SpaceX reused a booster for the first time, with the launch of the SES-10 satellite.

SpaceX

Past the 10-launch milestone, Musk says SpaceX will push Falcon 9 boosters until they fail, though not on crewed missions.

SpaceX

Reusable rockets are a big deal for SpaceX. It’s much cheaper — not to mention less wasteful — to reuse rockets than to build a new one for each mission.

SpaceX

SpaceX

But to reach that stage, SpaceX will have to prove that its Starship’s Super Heavy booster is as resilient as the Falcon 9.

SpaceX

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