CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX successfully launched a full stack of Starlink internet satellites into today (Oct. 18) and capped off the mission with a successful rocket landing at sea.
A two-stage Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from NASA’s historic Pad 39A here at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at 8:25 a.m. EDT (1225 GMT) carrying 60 new Starlink satellites for SpaceX’s growing constellation in orbit.
Approximately 9 minutes later, the booster’s first stage returned to Earth, landing on one of SpaceX’s drone ships in the Atlantic Ocean in a smooth touchdown. The massive ship, called Of Course I Still Love You, is one of two in the company’s fleet of recovery vessels that catch falling boosters and return them to port.
It was nothing but blue skies over the Space Coast today. Thanks to crystal clear skies, onlookers could follow the rocket from launch to stage separation.
“A great way to start off a Sunday,” SpaceX production supervisor Andy Tran said during live launch commentary.
Known as B1051, the booster featured in today’s flight now has six launches and landings under its belt — the second Falcon 9 to do so. This frequent flier has ferried four different Starlink payloads to space, as well as a trio of Earth-observing satellites for Canada and an uncrewed Dragon spacecraft for NASA’s Demo-1 mission back in 2019. The landing today marked the 62st recovery of a Falcon first stage since SpaceX recovered its first booster in 2015.