SpaceX will tick off two impressive milestones when it launches its 11th batch of Starlink satellites tomorrow.
Not only will the company see its hundredth lift off tomorrow, but it is also on course to set a reusability record by launching the same Falcon 9 rocket booster for the sixth time, the most times SpaceX — or any company for that matter — has reused a commercial rocket to date.
Weather permitting, a Falcon 9 rocket will launch 58 Starlink satellites and three Planet satellites tomorrow, August 18. For spaceflight enthusiasts, however, the controversial Starlink satellites aren't actually the main event here.
Some big milestones coming up https://t.co/K3v3yddg6J— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 17, 2020
As Inverse points out, this launch will be the sixth mission for booster B1049, meaning it will be the first time SpaceX has ever flown the same first-stage rocket that many times.
And that's not all, the website SpaceXStats notes that the company has launched 99 missions to date, meaning that tomorrow's Starlink launch will be SpaceX's big hundred.
Of SpaceX's 99 missions to date, five were with the Falcon 1 rocket, three with the Falcon Heavy, and 91 have been with the incredibly successful Falcon 9 rocket. It's amazing to think that SpaceX's first launch was only 12 years ago in 2008.
Amazing to see SpaceX's progress in just a few years of time. Not so long ago, SpaceX wasn't even able to reuse their booster for even a single time. And now ... 4 years ago 2016, SpaceX landed their booster for the first time on a droneship 🤯 pic.twitter.com/0G12kOiuAe— Pranay Pathole (@PPathole) August 17, 2020
All of this, of course, is part of SpaceX's modus operandi — reusing rockets is what they're all about, and with good reason. Retrieving a booster after a launch flight saves approximately $46.5 million of the $62 million expense associated with a Falcon 9 launch. So reusing a booster and retrieving it for the sixth time is quite an achievement.