SpaceX delivers 60 more Starlink satellites in first launch of 2021, and sets new Falcon 9 rocket reusability record
SpaceX launched its seventeenth series of Starlink satellites with a Falcon 9 rocket during its first mission in 2021, which flew and landed for the eighth time, setting a record for its reusability program. That brings the total size of the Starlink constellation to nearly 1,000 as the company has expanded its beta access program for service to the UK and Canada, the latter being the first to deploy a rural First Nations community in a remote part of the province of Ontario.
Launch began in Florida at 8:02 a.m. EST (5:02 a.m. PST). The satellites were delivered as planned about one hour after the launch. As mentioned, the booster has already flown seven times on this launch - including as recently as December when a SiriusXM satellite was put into orbit to support the company's satellite network.
Today's launch was also noteworthy because it included a landing attempt under so-called "envelope expansion conditions", which means that the winds in the landing zone where SpaceX's drone recovery ship was stationed at sea was actually the company's previously defined safety window for making a landing attempt.
Given today's success, SpaceX will likely now have higher wind speed tolerances to attempt a recovery, which should result in fewer launch cancellations due to weather conditions in the landing area.
Watch SpaceX launch a SiriusXM satellite live during its 25th flight in 2020
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