Shrugging off a Falcon 9 launch abort last week and a scrub Monday, SpaceX fired 60 more Starlink internet satellites into orbit Tuesday, the thirteenth batch in a fast-growing global network of broadband relay stations. The rocket’s first stage, making its third flight, flew itself to an on-target landing on an offshore drone ship after lifting the upper stage out of the lower atmosphere, chalking up the company’s 61st successful booster recovery.
Michael Seeley, co-founder of We Report Space, posted a stunning photo of the rocket launch silhouetted by the sun.
The launch ended a frustrating stretch of delays dating back to mid September that included back-to-back Falcon 9 launch aborts last Thursday and Friday that grounded the Starlinks and a Space Force Global Positioning System navigation satellite.
The GPS launch remains on hold, but SpaceX was able to correct the unspecified problem that blocked the Starlink launch and after a fourth delay Monday due to stormy weather, the rocket roared to life at 7:29 a.m. EDT Tuesday and shot away from its firing stand at the Kennedy Space Center.
Generating 1.7 million pounds of thrust, the 229-foot-tall rocket vaulted smoothly skyward from historic pad 39A, arcing away on a northeasterly trajectory as it climbed out of the dense lower atmosphere above the Atlantic Ocean.
Two and a half minutes later, the nine Merlin 1D first stage engines shut down as planned and the well-traveled booster, which helped send two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station in May,