SpaceX launched 50 Starlink internet satellites and landed the returning rocket on a ship at sea today (Feb. 25).
A two-stage Falcon 9 rocket topped with 50 Starlink internet spacecraft lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California today at 12:12 p.m. EST (1712 GMT; 9:12 a.m. local California time).
A little less than nine minutes later, the Falcon 9’s first stage came back down to Earth for a vertical touchdown on Of Course I Still Love You, a SpaceX droneship that was stationed several hundred miles off the California coast.
The second stage, meanwhile, continued carrying the 50 satellites to orbit. The spacecraft deployed as planned about an hour after liftoff, SpaceX confirmed via Twitter today.
Related: SpaceX’s Starlink satellite megaconstellation launches in photos
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying 50 Starlink internet satellites launches from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base on Feb. 25, 2022.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying 50 Starlink internet satellites launches from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base on Feb. 25, 2022. (Image credit: SpaceX)
It was the fourth launch and landing for this particular booster. The first stage also helped launch the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Earth-observation satellite for NASA and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites in November 2020, as well as 60 Starlink satellites in May 2021 and NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft in November 2021, SpaceX representatives said.
Such reuse is a priority for SpaceX and its founder and CEO, Elon Musk. Musk aims to help humanity colonize Mars, and the billionaire entrepreneur believes that fully and rapidly reusable rockets are the key breakthrough needed to make that happen.
Musk sure makes it look easy and the videos contain amazing footage. From launchpad to orbit and back the cameras give you a great ride. Well worth watching.