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SpaceX's Falcon 9 first-stage booster breaks the record on its 16th flight
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 first-stage booster breaks the record on its 16th flight
by Charles Briggs
Space Coast FL (SPX) Jul 11, 2023

A 229-foot-tall (70-meter) Falcon 9 rocket thundered off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, on Sunday at 11:58 p.m. EDT (0358 UTC Monday).

SpaceX's Starlink Group mission 6-5 launched 22 Starlink onboard the Falcon 9. This is the fifth launch into a new orbital shell for SpaceX's second-generation Starlink constellation, called Starlink Gen2, that first launched in December 2022.

Compared to its earlier Starlink spacecraft, SpaceX's V2 Mini satellites are more powerful. The company claims that the new satellites have increased broadband capacity and are equipped with Hall thruster electric propulsion systems, which produce more than twice as much thrust as those used on earlier models.

The total number of Starlink satellites launched since February 2018 will rise to 4,768, of which more than 4,435 are currently in orbit, according to Jonathan Mcdowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who is also an expert tracker of spaceflight activity and tracks the Starlink constellation on his website.

The reusable first stage booster B1058 first flew on SpaceX's first crewed mission, Crew Dragon Demo-2, with the crew Dragon named "Endeavour" which carried NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken to the International Space Station in the first crewed orbital spaceflight launched from the United States since the final Space Shuttle mission in 2011, and the first private spacecraft that can carry a crew into low-Earth orbit on May 20, 2020. SpaceX tested its boosters reusability by going beyond their certified limit of 15 flights.

About eight and a half minutes after liftoff, booster B1058 landed on the SpaceX autonomous drone ship "Just Read the Instructions" (JRTI). This mission marks the 16th successful flight of SpaceX's flight-proven reusable booster.

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