SpaceX, Elon Musk’s rocket manufacturing company, marked a significant milestone in space travel on Saturday. They launched 23 Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit. This mission utilized a first-stage booster, B1058, which accomplished its 19th and final flight.
The booster, B1058, has a rich history. It was pivotal in missions like Crew Demo-2 and several Starlink missions. In total, it launched over 860 satellites and 2 astronauts into orbit. Remarkably, the booster achieved this in about 3.5 years.
After its successful landing, B1058 tipped over during transport due to harsh weather conditions. SpaceX attributes this to high winds and waves. Despite this setback, the company highlights the advancements in their newer Falcon boosters. These have upgraded landing legs designed to prevent such incidents.
SpaceX’s journey to reusability began in December 2015. This was when they first successfully landed a booster back on Earth. The Falcon 9 became the first orbital class rocket capable of re-flight. Most rockets, traditionally, are expendable and not designed for reuse. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, has emphasized the importance of reusability in space technology. He likens rockets to other forms of transportation, stressing that reusability is crucial for competitive edge.
B1058’s final mission was part of the Starlink 6-32 mission. It delivered 23 satellites to orbit, further expanding the Starlink satellite constellation. The mission was launched from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral. The launch was initially delayed but successfully completed within the available window.
The 45th Weather Squadron at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station had predicted a favorable chance for launch. The primary concerns were cloud cover and related rules. The Falcon 9 first stage landed on the drone ship ‘Just Read the Instructions’ after the mission.
SpaceX’s Starlink internet service, as of the latest reports, boasts 2.3 million users across 70 countries. Since 2019, SpaceX has launched over 5,600 satellites, with the majority still operational in orbit.
The booster’s journey began with the historic Demo-2 mission in May 2020. It became notable for its frequent use and reliability. Though its loss is significant, B1058 has set a benchmark for future missions. It demonstrated the feasibility and success of reusable rockets, contributing immensely to SpaceX’s achievements in space travel.