SpaceX flies same Falcon 9 first stage in 3 weeks
In the latest SpaceX Starlink internet satellite mission, the company set a new launch-to-launch turnaround record for a Falcon 9 first stage.
At 5:27 p.m. EDT (21:27 UTC) April 29, 2022, SpaceX launched 53 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
This was the 13th launch to Starlink Shell 4 and was supported by Falcon 9 first stage core B1062, which was on its sixth flight, just 21 days after its previous. On April 8, this stage supported the Axiom Space Ax-1 crew launch to the International Space Station.
The previous fastest turnaround of a booster was just over 27 days.
For this mission, the core B1062 landed on the SpaceX drone ship “Just Read the Instructions” stationed about 390 miles (629 kilometers) downrange in the Atlantic Ocean.
The first stage is only needed for the first 2.5 minutes of flight. After stage separation, it continues on a parabolic trajectory, performing two additional burns to safely touch down on the drone ship.
While the first stage was making its decent, the second stage continued uphill to complete the job of orbiting the Starlink satellites, entering into an initial orbit roughly 9 minutes after liftoff.
SpaceX deployed the 53 Starlink satellites roughly an hour after launch, about 15 minutes after the second stage completed a brief circularizing burn.
This was the 151st Falcon 9 launch since its debut in 2010 and the 91 with a flight-proven booster. It was also the 17th Falcon 9 launch of 2022, six of which have occurred in April alone.
Starlink 4-16 was the 42nd operational Starlink mission. After this flight, there are more than 2,200 operational Starlink satellites in orbit.
Video courtesy of SpaceX
Theresa Cross grew up on the Space Coast. It’s only natural that she would develop a passion for anything “Space” and its exploration. During these formative years, she also discovered that she possessed a talent and love for defining the unique quirks and intricacies that exist in mankind, nature, and machines. Hailing from a family of photographers—including her father and her son, Theresa herself started documenting her world through pictures at a very early age. As an adult, she now exhibits an innate photographic ability to combine what appeals to her heart and her love of technology to deliver a diversified approach to her work and artistic presentations. Theresa has a background in water chemistry, fluid dynamics, and industrial utility.