SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket notched its two hundredth profitable orbital mission on Thursday (Feb. 2), and the corporate marked the milestone by sharing some gorgeous photographs of the spaceflight motion.
A Falcon 9 lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy House Middle in Florida early Thursday morning, carrying 53 of SpaceX’s Starlink web satellites skyward.
The 2-stage rocket’s reusable first stage got here again for a touchdown — the fifth total for that exact booster — on the SpaceX drone ship A Shortfall of Gravitas just below 9 minutes after launch. About 50 minutes after that, the Falcon 9’s higher stage deployed the Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit as deliberate.
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SpaceX celebrated the success of the mission — its eighth of 2023 already — just a few hours later by way of Twitter (opens in new tab), posting three dazzling photographs of the Falcon 9 in flight.
One shot offers a pointy, zoomed-in view of the flame path generated by the rocket because it leapt off the pad.
In one other, the Falcon 9’s plume appears to be like like a glowing purple flower within the predawn Florida sky. And the third, a long-exposure shot, reveals the arcing route the rocket took over the Atlantic Ocean to low Earth orbit.
SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 for the very first time in June 2010, sending a dummy model of the corporate’s Dragon cargo capsule aloft. The rocket’s second mission, in December 2010, despatched an actual Dragon to orbit, and the third, in Could 2012, launched the capsule to the Worldwide House Station (ISS).
The rocket’s workload has elevated considerably since these early days, as has the variety of its payloads. In 2022, for instance, SpaceX launched 60 Falcon 9 missions, three of which despatched astronauts to the ISS. Two of those crewed flights have been for NASA, whereas the third was organized by Houston-based firm Axiom House.
However the majority of final yr’s missions have been dedicated to constructing out the Starlink megaconstellation, which at the moment consists of greater than 3,500 functioning satellites (opens in new tab).
That quantity will proceed to develop for fairly a while; SpaceX already has permission to loft 12,000 Starlink spacecraft, and the corporate has utilized for approval to deploy 30,000 extra satellites on high of that.
Mike Wall is the writer of “Out There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a e-book in regards to the seek for alien life. Comply with him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Comply with us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or Fb (opens in new tab).
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