February 4th, 2021
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Beneath completely clear skies, a SpaceX Falcon 9 took to the skies over Cape Canaveral Area Drive Station’s Area Launch Complicated 40, taking one other batch of 60 Starlink satellites to orbit.
Liftoff for the Starlink 18 mission passed off at 1:19 a.m. EST (06:19 UTC) Feb. 4, 2021. Making this rocket go was Falcon 9 first stage core B1060, which was getting used for the fifth time, in the end efficiently touchdown on the corporate’s autonomous drone ship “Of Course I Nonetheless Love You” off the coast of the Carolinas.
B1060 was beforehand used solely 27 days in the past as a part of the Turksat-5A mission, setting a file turnaround time for launch, land, refurbish and relaunch. This refurbishment and re-flight time is simply half that of what the house shuttle required, which throughout its time was the usual for reusable automobiles.
SpaceX used twin fairing restoration ships, often known as “GO Ms. Tree” and “GO Ms. Chief,” that have been ready within the launch restoration space to get better the rockets payload fairings for future reuse. Whereas they didn’t catch them within the ships’ large nets, they may probably be scooped out of the water following their light guided parachute touchdown. SpaceX is at present the one firm reusing its rocket fairings, saving as much as $5 million per launch.
This launch leapfrogged one other Starlink mission, Starlink 17, which was initially scheduled to liftoff simply Four hours after this flight from close by Launch Complicated 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Area Heart. Nonetheless, that launch was delayed by at least a day to be able to enable for additional pre-flight checks.
Had these two flights occurred as scheduled, the dual Starlink launches would have set a modern-era file for Florida’s Jap Vary assist and turnaround. Not since NASA’s Gemini program of the 1960s have two rockets launched from Cape Canaveral in the identical day.
Matt Haskell is a broadcast aviation and spaceflight photographer and author primarily based in Merritt Island Florida. Born and raised outdoors Edwards Air Drive Base and NASA’s Armstrong Flight Analysis Heart, he moved to Florida’s Area Coast and started photographing and reporting spaceflight professionally full time in 2018.