Home News SpaceX’s next Starlink launch to mark biggest rocket reusability milestone yet

SpaceX’s next Starlink launch to mark biggest rocket reusability milestone yet [webcast]

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In case everything goes as planned, SpaceX’s second 60-satellite Starlink launching will push the Falcon rocket household to the stage of its challenging reusability design objectives.

SpaceX has scheduled its sixth launch of 60 Starlink satellites no earlier than (NET) 9:42 am EDT (13:42 UTC) March 14th. Called Starlink L6 or Starlink V1 L5 (speaking about the fifth batch of upgraded v1.0 satellites), the Starlink mission is going to be the SpaceX’so fourth this season – a cadence that would allow up to 21 Starlink launches in 2020 alone. In other words, a launching this weekend could place SpaceX firmly on course to understand the guidance that is repeated it would attempt 20-24 Starlink missions this past season.

Given that SpaceX’s yearly record stands in 21 launches and that the company has many added launches planned for 2020, it’s been evident that rocket reusability would be crucial to even begin to approach the launching speeds Starlink demands. Doing so without impacting customer assignments – almost certainly an unacceptable tradeoff for SpaceX – is more of a struggle. Luckily, with its very next launch, SpaceX is going to drive the enemy reusability envelope yet again, hopefully proving the Falcon household is to realizing its design objectives.

Record-breaking Falcon 9 booster B1048.4 is now available to break yet another record for reusable SpaceX rockets. (Richard Angle)

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SpaceX’s ultimate iteration of this Falcon launch vehicle – known as its Block 5 upgrade – flew for the first time in May 2018 and has since played yet another 27 assignments in 22 weeks as. When it debuted, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk spoke in depth about the Block 5 upgrade and the significant changes it introduced, saying that it primarily focused on enhancing reliability and reusability. Notably, each Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket system generated from then on would be identical to the select few boosters destined to launch astronauts, meaning future SpaceX launches would immediately benefit NASA required.

Since July 2018, all SpaceX launches have showcased rockets all but identical to those who will launch astronauts. (SpaceX)

But the greatest focus of Block 5 upgrade would function as updates it attracted for SpaceX’s reusable rocketry program, with Musk describing it as a cumulative product of half a decade. The large claim: Falcon Block 5 boosters would be capable of at least ten launches with minimal to no repairs between. After reaching 10-launch landmarks, Musk additionally noted that boosters could utilize overhauls – much like aircraft – to achieve 100 or more launches apiece earlier retirement.

Eleven months after SpaceX launched and landed the exact same rocket for the third period, Falcon 9 booster B1048 became the first to finish four jumps and landings, putting the initial 60 Starlink v1.0 tanks in orbit in November 2019. Over two weeks later, Falcon 9 B1049 matched its predecessor’s record, becoming the next booster to launch four times.

Falcon 9 B1048.4 returned to Port Canaveral aboard drone boat OCISLY on November 15th. (Richard Angle)

Falcon 9 B1049 returned to jack on January 9th after launch Starlink V1 L2. (Richard Angle)

Now, based on Next Spaceflight, pathfinder Falcon 9 booster B1048 is scheduled to launch for the fifth time in service of Starlink L6 – a little less than four weeks later it became the first SpaceX rocket to cross the fourth-flight landmark. Only days ago, SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell revealed that Falcon boosters may not ever must fly over ten times. Given that Falcon 9 Block 5 boosters were first and foremost made to establish no less than ten times per year, B1048 is on the verge of achieving the point of a single SpaceX’s ambitious Block 5 layout objectives.

In case B1048 (and B1049 soon then ) can establish that Falcon boosters may launch five times, it’s difficult to imagine any technical showstoppers that could prevent SpaceX from achieving its self-imposed ten-flight landmark. With SpaceX likely to attempt anywhere from Starlink launches this season, there will be no shortage of opportunities for Falcon 9.

Tune in about 15 minutes before liftoff to capture SpaceX’s Starlink L6 launching live this Saturday, pending a successful Falcon 9 static fire test later now.

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