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20 times is not the limit. SpaceX updates the record of multiple use of Falcon 9 booster

20 times is not the limit. SpaceX updates the record of multiple use of Falcon 9 booster
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Do you still remember the famous meme of the SpaceX skeptic "then let's talk"?

Today, repeated flights of Falcon 9 rockets into space no longer surprise anyone, but last weekend, SpaceX's main workhorse marked a weighty and even historical achievement: booster B1062 of the F9 B5 stage completed 20 successful "launch-landing" cycles.

The event took place on April 13, 2024 during the Starlink Group 6-49 mission to deploy a new batch of 23 Starlink internet satellites into orbit. The Falcon 9 rocket launched from the SLC-40 cosmodrome at Cape Canaveral at 01:40 UTC (18:40 Kyiv time)

The absolute record holder made its first flight on November 5, 2020—over nearly three and a half years, the booster helped launch two Crew Dragon spacecraft (Inspiration4 and Axiom-1 missions), two GPS satellites, telecommunication satellites (Nilesat-301, Arabsat 7B), 17 OneWeb internet satellites, and 507 Starlink internet satellites.

Since November 2020, SpaceX has reused the B1062 stage for 20 launches.

Interestingly, along with this record, SpaceX achieved another one—it performed two launches from the SLC-40 launch complex within less than three days. The previous launch took place on April 10 at 05:40 UTC, and the next on April 13 at 01:40 UTC—the interval between launches was 2 days 19 hours 40 minutes (less than 68 hours). Engineers were able to improve the previous record by about 26 hours.

One of the key features of SpaceX rockets is their reusability for significant cost savings in delivering cargo into space. Falcon rocket stages and the main fairing are reused. After launch, the first stage lands on the launch pad or a drone ship (depending on the mission profile and fuel reserves) and, after refurbishment, is used for future launches. A bit of history: on March 31, 2017, SpaceX first launched Falcon 9 with a recovered first stage, and in 2018, it transitioned to the Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket generation with additional optimizations for reusability (up to 10 flights with minimal refurbishment and up to 100 flights with partial replacement of parts). Since then, SpaceX has confidently set records for reusability—a total of 297 successful landings out of 308 attempts on Falcon rockets. In total, 42 rockets have flown multiple times. SpaceX has also reused fairing halves over 300 times, with some having flown on more than eleven missions.

Currently, SpaceX is actively preparing for the fourth test flight of Starship, expected in May. Earlier, President Gwynne Shotwell described the third test as "extremely successful" and specified the goal for 2024—to successfully launch Starlink into orbit using Starship, retrieve both parts, and carry out 148 Falcon 9 launches.

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