SpaceX launches Falcon 9 with 46 Starlink satellites, lands rocket on ship at sea
SpaceX on Sunday launched a latest batch of 46 Starlink satellites from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California into low-Earth orbit. As with other SpaceX rockets, the first stage booster supporting the mission detached from the rocket and autonomously landed back on a droneship named “Of Course I Still Love You” stationed in the Pacific Ocean.
It was the sixth launch and landing for this Falcon 9 first stage, according to a report by Space.com The booster has been used in launching three other Starlink missions and is hoped to be used for future launches too. It helped loft the Earth-observation satellite Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission and three Starlink batches, SpaceX said in a mission description.
According to Space.com report, Sunday evening’s launch was the 29th orbital mission of the year for SpaceX and the 17th dedicated to company’s huge internet-satellite constellation–Starlink.
SpaceX has launched over 2,750 Starlink satellites to date, and the number is expected to grow for the foreseeable future. The company already has approval to launch 12,000 Starlink craft, and it has applied to an international regulator for permission to loft up to 30,000 more on top of that, added the report. India