A SpaceX Falcon 9 has been reflown just 51 days after its last mission surpassing a long-standing reusability record held by the Space Shuttle.
The flight-proven Falcon 9 was launched from Cape Canaveral at 21:30 UTC yesterday carrying the ANASIS II military communications satellite for South Korea. Just over two and half minutes into the flight, the nine first-stage Merlin engines shut down, and stage separation was completed successfully.
After making its way back through Earth’s upper atmosphere over the next few minutes, the Falcon 9 first stage approached the Just Read The Instructions droneship. With an almost uninterrupted view broadcast to the live SpaceX audience, the booster touched down safely.
Seconds before the Falcon 9 booster touched down, the rocket’s upper stage entered a parking orbit around Earth. Following a 20-minute coast phase and a second upper stage burn, the ANASIS II military communications satellite was deployed into a highly-elliptical super-synchronous transfer orbit.
With the successful touchdown of the B1058 Falcon 9 Block 5 first stage booster, SpaceX surpassed a long-standing reusability record. The booster was launched just 51 days after it was used to carry NASA astronauts to space from US soil for the first time in almost a decade. The record had previously been held by the Space Shuttle Atlantis, which managed a turn around between flights of just 54 days in 1985.
In addition to breaking the Space Shuttle’s reusability record, the ANASIS II mission was also notable as the first SpaceX mission to successfully catch both fairing halves. Although there is currently no footage, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk confirmed the landmark achievement on Twitter writing, “Both fairing halves caught from space by @SpaceX ships!”