It hasn’t even been a week yet and SpaceX already made its second rocket launch. Of course, such frequent launches will be the norm if the company ever achieves its goal of economic commercial rocket launches. While last week’s historic launch brought two astronauts to the International Space Station, this latest catapults non-living satellites into orbit. While comparatively less exciting, it still makes a few first for Elon Musk’s highest-profile company after Tesla.
For one, the launch marks two significant milestones in the company’s history. This week is the 10th anniversary of the first-ever Falcon 9 that launched a decade ago. The Falcon 9 that was used in the launch has now also flown five times, making it the most reused rocket in history.
The Falcon 9 is SpaceX’s primary booster while its Falcon Heavy is still under development for its super heavy Starship vehicle. SpaceX attempted to make that historic fifth landing last March but when it launched a similar batch of 60 Starlink satellites. While the satellites went into orbit successfully, that booster didn’t get its successful landing.
The 60 Starlink constellation satellites also close the total to 480, 482 if you count the initial two prototypes. It’s still a far cry from the 12,000 that Musk envisions will provide high-speed Internet to every corner of the globe. It does, however, surpass the minimum Musk said would be required to provide minimal coverage. The company plans to start offering the service later this year.
Those satellites, however, have unsurprisingly been controversial especially among astronomers and scientists because of how they disrupt scientific observations because of their reflective surfaces. The 60 that just launched are equipped with special visors designed to prevent sunlight from reflecting off its antennas. If those prove to be successful, future Starlink satellites will use the same component though there is no word on how it will fix the 420 already in orbit.