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article imageSpaceX Falcon 9 booster rocket launches for fourth time

By Karen Graham     Nov 11, 2019 in Technology
Cape Canaveral - SpaceX launched 60 more satellites Monday as part of CEO Elon Musk's "Starlink" mission to bring high-speed internet to large, remote swaths of the world.
It's hard to believe, but SpaceX has not launched a rocket in almost three months, so today's launch was much anticipated. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, carrying 60 Starlink satellites, rumbled aloft at 9:56 a.m. local time from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida,
"Enabled by a constellation of low Earth orbit satellites, Starlink will provide fast, reliable internet to populations with little or no connectivity, including those in rural communities and places where existing services are too expensive or unreliable," SpaceX said in a statement announcing the launch.
Falcon 9 and Starlink are vertical on Pad 40 ahead of launch.
Falcon 9 and Starlink are vertical on Pad 40 ahead of launch.
Approximately an hour after liftoff, SpaceX confirmed that all 60 Starlink satellites successfully deployed. Monday's satellite launch is the "heaviest payload to date, first re-flight of a fairing, and first Falcon 9 to fly a fourth mission," the company said in a tweet prior to the launch.
Milestone moment for the Falcon 9
To be sure, a successful rocket launch is always exciting - but when it's the Falcon 9 B1048’s historic fourth launch and landing, it is something to crow about, especially when the Block 5 upgrade is proving to live up to its design goals.
The Falcon 9 booster was also recovered after a near-bullseye landing on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship stationed some 630 kilometers (340 miles) northeast of the Florida coast. As SpaceX pointed out in a Tweet - "Falcon 9 first stage supporting this mission previously launched Iridium-7, SAOCOM-1A, and Nusantara Satu."
However, something new was added to this milestone occasion. Today's Starlink-1 mission also marked the first time SpaceX has launched a flight-proven payload fairing. This particular fairing previously flew on Falcon Heavy Block 5’s Arabsat 6A launch debut back in April 2019.
What does this all mean? Simply put - it is one heck of a money-saver. Falcon 9 (and Heavy) fairings represent about 10 percent of the cost of Falcon 9 launches, meaning that each set of halves has a price tag of roughly $6 million.
Falcon fairing half as seen from our catcher’s mitt in boat form  Mr. Steven. No apparent damage f...
Falcon fairing half as seen from our catcher’s mitt in boat form, Mr. Steven. No apparent damage from reentry and splashdown.
Elon Musk
Additionally, as Teslarati points out, Falcon fairing production may have some of the longest lead-time issues of any aspect of SpaceX rocket manufacturing. And without expensive production facility upgrades, a bottleneck in the launch cadence would be a problem if not enough fairings were available.
In June and August 2019, the fairing recovery ship GO Ms. Tree (formerly Mr. Steven) successfully caught two fairing halves in a row, proving the viability of saving fairings from a death in the ocean. So today's launch is almost historic.
SpaceX plans to continue launching Starlink satellites in batches and says it’s targeting service to parts of the northern U.S. and Canada in 2020, according to Starlink’s website.
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