SpaceX has announced the postponement of its next launch of Starlink internet satellites after a Falcon 9 booster missed a landing attempt on an offshore drone ship during an otherwise successful mission Monday night.
The aim of SpaceX was to launch a Falcon 9 rocket at from pad 39A with about 60 Starlink satellites. However, the plan was put on hold when the Falcon 9 was expected to roll out to the seaside launch complex at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
No date has been officially released for the postponed launch of the Falcon 9, which has already been delayed since late January due to technical issues.
Amid the postponement and date change, different Falcon 9 rocket took off from nearby pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, successfully delivering its 60 Starlink payloads into orbit. However, the first stage booster crashed at sea, consequently missing SpaceX’s rocket landing platform in the Atlantic Ocean.
A live video feed from an on-board camera revealed that the rocket trailing a fiery plume after the end of the entry burn, moments before telemetry data from the vehicle cut off. A camera from SpaceX’s drone ship also showed an orange glow in the sky as the rocket fell into the Atlantic.
SpaceX's recovery and reuse of Falcon 9 first stages is unparalleled in the launch industry, with no other commercial launch company landing and reusing boosters on orbital-class missions. Going into Monday night’s launch, SpaceX had recovered Falcon booster cores 74 times since 2015. This includes 24 straight successful landings since the last time SpaceX lost a first stage in March 2020.
SpaceX currently has six Falcon 9 boosters left in its inventory, three of which have been earmarked for future missions for NASA and the U.S. Space Force: SpaceX’s next crew launch to the International Space Station in April, and launches with a GPS satellite and NASA asteroid probe in July.
SpaceX is reported to be building additional Falcon cores, which include boosters for the next triple-body Falcon Heavy launch later in the year.
The successful recovery of Falcon boosters have become more critical in recent times if SpaceX is to maintain its high-tempo launch cadence, especially for flights adding to the company’s Starlink internet network.
SpaceX has launched three satellites in quick succession as the company shows their dedication to the multibillion-dollar Starlink program, with officials planning two more Starlink missions before the end of February.
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