The Falcon 9 rocket booster that sent NASA astronauts to the International Space Station in May is set to get recycled again when SpaceX sends 60 more Starlink satellites to orbit atop its column of fire.
Elon Musk’s trademark reusable rocket will be making its third flight when it lifts off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center in the coming days. This specific unit sent astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to orbit in May and then launched a South Korean satellite in July. So far, SpaceX has managed to launch and land the same rocket up to six times.
The launch was originally scheduled for Thursday, but was pushed back to Friday and then postponed again due to less than ideal weather conditions in the Atlantic where the first stage and the fairing were set to be recovered. No new launch date has been announced yet, but it’s unlikely we’ll see the rocket get off the ground before next week.
One half of the nose cone, or fairing, atop the rocket has also seen two previous flights, both of them earlier Starlink missions.
This should be a fairly routine launch. It will be the 13th Starlink mission so far, and SpaceX is ultimately planning on dozens more as it grows its broadband mega-constellation.
Following the launch and separation of the rocket’s second stage and payload, the first-stage booster will again return to Earth to land on a droneship in the Atlantic.
SpaceX will stream the entire thing via the feed above, starting at about 10 minutes before launch.