SpaceX has set a new benchmark in its efforts to reuse Falcon 9 boosters with the launch of a ninth mission aboard the same booster.
The flight-proven Falcon 9 was launched from the Kennedy Space Center on March 12 at 10:01 UTC carrying 60 Starlink satellites. The new additions to the Starlink constellation were deployed into low Earth orbit approximately 60 minutes after liftoff.
Following the launch of the twenty-first Starlink mission, the Falcon 9 booster was successfully recovered, touching down safely on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship.
With the successful recovery of the first stage, the Falcon 9 booster, identified by its serial number B1051, became the first to complete nine missions. B1051 had previously supported the uncrewed test flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, and the launch of the RADARSAT Constellation, SXM-7 communications satellite, and five other Starlink missions.
In addition to it being its ninth mission overall, this morning’s launch was the second flight of B1051 this year. The booster successfully carried another set of 60 Starlink satellites into orbit on January 20. The flight was notable as the first time a booster had been reflown eight times, a feat that has since been emulated by one other booster earlier this month.
With the completion of a ninth flight, B1051 is one flight away from the 10-mission target SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk set for the company’s Falcon 9 first stage boosters. However, vice president of build and flight reliability at SpaceX Hans Koenigsmann has suggested that the booster could be pushed past the 10-mission threshold.