SpaceX carried out its 200th orbital mission on Friday (Dec. 16), sending up a pair of powerful new communications satellites.
The first stage, having done its job, returned and landed safely on a SpaceX Unmanned ship in the Atlantic Ocean less than nine minutes after takeoff. This was the reusable booster’s eighth landing overall.
Meanwhile, the second stage continued to carry O3b mPower 1 and 2 Satellites towards their intended meso-Earth orbit (MEO). satellites were Posted on schedule (Opens in a new tab) About two hours after launch.
O3b mPower 1 and 2 are owned and operated by SES, a Luxembourgish-French satellite communications network company. The pair of spacecraft is the first of a planned constellation of 11 high-throughput, low-latency primary satellites to provide several terabytes of global broadband connectivity from MEO.
Each satellite is based on the Boeing BSS-702X satellite bus and features phased array antennas that can deliver up to 5,000 optical beams to distribute hundreds of gigabits of capacity to users on the ground. SES plans to launch six more O3b mPower satellites in 2023 and three in 2024.
The mission marks SpaceX’s 200th orbital launch overall. I started this with Falcon 1, which flew five times between 2006 and 2009, resulting in the first takeoff of the Falcon 9 on June 4, 2010. The Falcon 9 first stage is powered by nine Merlin engines, a fact that contributes to the rocket’s name. The second stage uses a single, vacuum-enhanced Merlin to complete the flight into orbit.
The Falcon 9’s rate of launch has increased dramatically over the years as the missile has proven its reliability, versatility, and reusability, while also evolving into its final Block 5 version. The missile has now launched 191 missions, including 57 in 2022 alone.
Mighty has flown four SpaceX orbital missions Falcon Heavywhich employs three modified Falcon 9 first stages.
There will be a little time for SpaceX to celebrate the milestone of 200 missions. The company is set to launch a wide range of its products Starlink Broadband satellites from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday (Dec. 17).
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 8:30 PM EST on December 16 with news of a successful satellite deployment.
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