A flight-proven Falcon 9 booster became the first to be launched and recovered for a seventh time on November 24.
The Falcon 9 launched from Cape Canaveral at 02:13 UTC carrying 60 Starlink satellites for the company’s satellite internet constellation. Approximately 150 seconds into the flight, the vehicle’s first-stage booster separated as its upper stage continued to orbit.
After flipping around and completing a short burn, the vehicle’s booster began the journey back to Earth. Just shy of nine minutes after liftoff, the booster touched down on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
With a successful touchdown, the booster, referred to as B1049, became the first SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage to be launched and recovered seven times.
B1049 was launched for the first time in September 2018 carrying the Telstar 18V/Apstar-5C satellite. It launched two additional commercial payloads over its next six missions, 10 Iridium NEXT satellites aboard a dedicated January 2019 flight and three SkySat satellites that hitched a ride with 58 Starlink satellites during an August 2020 rideshare mission. All other B1049 flights have been dedicated flights in the service of the ever-expanding Starlink constellation.
Over its seven missions, B1049 has been launched from two launch facilities to three different orbits deploying over 300 satellites.
In addition to setting new benchmarks for reusability, the November 25 launch was also the 23rd SpaceX mission of 2020 and the 100th flight of a Falcon 9 rocket. The rocket was first launched in June 2010 and has since transformed the industry with several firsts including being the first commercial rocket to carry astronauts to the International Space Station.