SpaceX performed its 200th rocket booster landing during its latest rideshare mission, Transporter-8.
The private space firm launched 72 small satellites to orbit yesterday, June 13, aboard a Falcon rocket that took off from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base at 5:35 pm EDT (2135 GMT). Only eight minutes after launch, the rocket’s first stage returned to Earth for a vertical landing.
It was the ninth launch and landing for this particular booster and SpaceX’s 200th booster landing, the company wrote in a mission description on its website.
SpaceX’s 200th Falcon-9 Landing
SpaceX’s first Falcon-9 booster landing took place on December 2015, and the company has since carried out landings following missions that have sent astronauts to orbit.
Shortly after launch, SpaceX tweeted, “Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on Landing Zone 4, marking SpaceX’s 200th successful recovery of an orbital class rocket”.
The latest mission lifted 72 payloads to orbit, including CubeSats, microsats, a re-entry capsule, and orbital transfer vehicles carrying spacecraft to be deployed at a later time, according to SpaceX. The payloads were all successfully deployed roughly an hour after lift-off.
You can watch footage of the landing in the embedded video below and the entire mission in the YouTube video at the bottom of the article.
SpaceX is also developing its massive Starship rocket, which first took to the skies in April.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk recently stated that he believed the rocket could be ready to launch again in a month or two. However, the company is currently the focus of a lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) following the first Starship launch.
SpaceX’s Impressive Launch Rate
SpaceX can achieve impressive milestones like the 200th Falcon-9 landing partly because of the remarkable speed at which it launches successive missions from various launch facilities.
Transporter-8, for example, was SpaceX’s second mission in space of about 14 hours. Early Monday, the firm also launched 52 Starlink internet satellites to orbit from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
SpaceX has now launched almost 4,400 Starlink satellites. According to Harvard astronomer and astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell’s website, the company has over 4,000 Starlink satellites in orbit.