On Saturday, October 24 at 11:31 a.m. EDT, 11:31 UTC, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched 60 more Starlink satellites to orbit approximately 1 hour and 3 minutes after liftoff. The mission which flew from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida marked the 100th successful flight of a Falcon rocket since Falcon 1 first flew to orbit in 2008.
A successful landing
The mission also saw SpaceX successfully land Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Just Read the Instructions” drone ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean, an always impressive achievement. Up to now, SpaceX has successfully landed a Falcon first-stage rocket booster 63 times and re-flown boosters 45 times, making Falcon 9 the most-flown operational rocket in the United States.
The firm further explained in a statement that it is the only launch provider in the world capable of precision landing an orbital rocket after it reenters Earth’s atmosphere. "At 14 stories tall and traveling upwards of 2,900 mph (1,300 m/s), stabilizing Falcon 9’s first stage booster for landing is like trying to balance a rubber broomstick on your hand in the middle of a hurricane," wrote SpaceX.
The firm also emphasized the importance of using reusable rockets. "SpaceX believes that fully and rapidly reusable rockets are the pivotal breakthrough needed to dramatically reduce the cost of access to space to enable people to travel to and live on other planets. While most rockets are expendable after launch — akin to throwing away an airplane after a one-way trip from Los Angeles to New York — SpaceX is working toward a future in which reusable rockets are the norm," wrote SpaceX.
The firm also revealed that its recent flights have all been working toward the development of Starship, SpaceX’s next-generation fully and rapidly reusable super heavy-lift transportation system. This advancement is meant to lower the cost of spaceflight to a degree that will help humanity finally become a multi-planetary species — Elon Musk's long-held dream.