One rocket has launched a quarter of the SpaceX Starlink satellites and it’s not done – CNET

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A Falcon 9 stands ready for launch.

SpaceX

For almost two decades now, SpaceX has been out to prove that rockets should be treated more like airplanes than candy wrappers. In other words, they should be reusable. The company’s next Starlink launch will illustrate just how successful Elon Musk has been in reaching this goal.

SpaceX on Tuesday will conduct what has become a very routine mission to send another batch of 60 Starlink broadband satellites into low-Earth orbit. This will be the 26th such launch primarily dedicated to Starlink if you count the first group of early test satellites launched in May 2019 (and leave out the Transporter-1 rideshare that carried just 10 Starlinks).

But what’s perhaps most remarkable is the first stage booster that will lift off from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Tuesday afternoon. It’s expected to be the same Falcon 9 first-stage that has already flown on eight other missions, meaning it will be making a record-tying ninth career flight. The current record holder for most launches and landings is naturally a different Falcon 9. 

The booster flying this week (listed as B1049) will be undertaking its seventh Starlink mission, which means that if all goes well B1049 will be responsible for launching more than 25 percent of all Starlink satellites ever launched, all by its lonesome.

And the booster that B1049 will share the total launch record with, B1051, is responsible for 23 percent of Starlink. So together, just two Falcon 9 rocket boosters have managed to lift nearly half of the more than 1,500 Starlinks launched to date.

Clearly, rockets really can be recycled.

As if B1049’s Starlink service weren’t enough, it also flew two larger satellite missions before the first Starlink launch. We’ll see how much more life this single high-powered candle has left in it.

You can watch its ninth career launch right here. We’ll embed the livestream feed as soon as it’s available. Liftoff is currently set for 12:01 p.m. PT (3:01 p.m. ET) Tuesday, so long as weather cooperates in the landing zone in the Atlantic Ocean. The livestream should begin about 10 minutes before launch.

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