With the launch of 60 new Starlink satellites, SpaceX utilised the first rocket fairing half to be reused and recovered for a third time.
The 13th Starlink mission was launched aboard a Falcon 9 from the Kennedy Space Center at 11:29 UTC.
In addition to a flight-proven first stage, the rocket was equipped with a fairing half that had been recovered twice before. With the launch of the Starlink mission, the fairing half became the first to fly aboard three flights. This marked a new benchmark in SpaceX’s relentless drive for reusability.
Following a successful launch, stage separation, and fairing separation, the first stage and fairing halves began their journey back to Earth.
Approximately eight minutes after liftoff, the flight-proven first stage touched down on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship stationed in the Atlantic. The stage had previously been utilised to launch the first crewed Dragon spacecraft in May and the South Korean ANASIS-II military satellite in July.
With the successful recovery of the first stage complete, attention shifted to the Ms. Chief and Ms. Tree fairing recovery ships. Although Ms. Chief was forced to abandon its attempt, Ms. Tree completed a successful fairing catch approximately 40 minutes after liftoff.
The fairing half recovered had previously been used to launch two other missions. As a result, it has become the first to be launched and recovered for a third time.
As SpaceX completed their record-setting effort on the ground, the record setting continued in orbit.
After two second stage burns, the 60 Starlink satellites carried aboard the Falcon 9 were deployed into low Earth orbit. With the addition of the latest satellites, SpaceX has launched a total of 775 Starlink satellites into orbit since 2018.