SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches 60 Starlink Satellites in Fifth Use of First Stage

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with a first stage being flown for a record fifth time launched 60 Starlink broadband Internet satellites into orbit on Wednesday morning from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Falcon 9 suffered the loss of one of its nine Merlin 1D engines at 2 minutes 22 seconds into the flight. The failure, which occurred 10 seconds before first stage shutdown, did not affect the deployment of the 60 satellites following successful shutdown of the second stage.

However, the engine failure could have been a factor in the failure to land the booster on an offshore drone ship. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that a full investigation was required prior to the next Falcon 9 launch.

The payload fairing was previously flown during the launch of Starlink satellites in May 2019.

SpaceX has now launched 362 Starlink spacecraft, which are intended to provide broadband Internet services around the globe. The Starlink constellation will eventually include nearly 12,000 satellites. SpaceX has also applied for approval to raise that total by 30,000 to 42,000 satellites.