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Falcon 9 reaches 84 flights during the latest Starlink Mission

The 7th Starlink launch, or 6th official mission helps the Falcon 9 overtake the Atlas V for most launches of a rocket.

For those keeping score at home there are now 422 Starlink satellites that have been launched to orbit. I know what you're thinking, seven launches of 60 satellites means there should be only 420 launched. Remember in 2018 SpaceX sent two Starlink satellites named Tintin-A, and Tintin-B into orbit for their first test. It gets more confusing with the first total Starlink launch being considered a test, so the second launch was really the first. Either way we count it, SpaceX has still achieved a major milestone for the company with this being the 84th launch of their Falcon 9 rocket. Yesterdays booster, 1051.4 has made four trips to space itself, another achievement that has made the company SpaceX notable in the industry. Booster reusability has become a normal procedure with the times, making the company's goal of lowering the cost of space flight a reality.

Photo credit: Jean Wright (A photographer photographs booster 1051.4 before Starlink 6)

With the previous record holder, ULA's Atlas V rocket at 83 launches the two have been tied for the last few weeks. It's important to note however that the Atlas V has a 100% success rate, whereas the Falcon 9 has had a few launches that turned out to be unsuccessful. The advantage that sets SpaceX apart is the ability to refly boosters as previously stated. Yesterdays booster mad it's debut flight in March of 2019 during the DM-1 launch which first tested the Dragon Crew capsule for SpaceX. Just three months later it went on to fly from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California for the RADARSAT constellation. Up next was Starlink 3 back again on the space coast of Florida in January of 2020. This booster is also to date the only to fly from all three launch pads SpaceX has in operation.

Booster 1051.4's last landing on the drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You" was harder than normal, and called the question of it being able to fly again. Yesterdays successful landing on the same drone ship showed the companies ability to overcome obstacles. Expected to reach Port Canaveral on Saturday morning many will be looking to see the shape of the legs and the fresh soot designs along it's core.

This launch was also a rare occurrence in that the launch was moved up a day due to foul weather expected to occur on the original target launch date, and for the remainder of the week. Most of us are ready to hear of a launch delay, so it was a treat to hear they were moving up a day with 90% favorable conditions. That 90% was good enough as well, at 3:30 pm EST all nine Merlin engines ignited and the Falcon 9 races Northeast sending the batch of 60 Starlink Satellites into orbit. Considering the Covid-19 pandemic there were still crowds of people gathered around the Titusville area to view the launch.

This was also the second Starlink launch to take place from historic pad 39A, where every lunar mission launched from atop the might Saturn V rockets. Having usually been reserved by the company SpaceX for Demo, and Falcon Heavy launches pad 39A has recently seen launches from regular Falcon 9 rockets to help the company with turn around time on their two launch pads on the space coast of Florida.

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