Elon Musk’s space company, SpaceX, launched 60 Starlink satellites on Monday. SpaceX has reached two new milestones in the latest Starlink satellite launch. One is the fourth re-use of the orbital rocket booster, and the other is the first re-use of the load rectifier.
The Falcon 9 first-stage booster was used to launch commercial satellites in July and October 2018, using the booster’s Falcon 9 rocket to launch 60 Starlink satellites into space from Cape Canaveral Air Station in Florida. Its third launch was on 22 February, when it put an Indonesian communications satellite into orbit and an Israeli beret unmanned probe into lunar orbit, but the Beret unmanned probe eventually crashed on the lunar surface.
SpaceX has helped pioneer the landing and recycling of orbital rockets after space agencies have been using boosters once for decades, and Musk’s goal is to be fully reusable. To that end, the company has also made great efforts to recover the rectifiers used to protect the payload during launch, so much so that it tries to capture the shrouds that have been split in half using barges with giant fishing nets.
Monday’s launch of 60 Starlink satellites is the remaining of a large number of large satellites launched earlier this year. The company hopes to launch an early version of its satellite broadband service by 2020, with a long-term goal of launching up to 42,000 small satellites over the next few years, covering the world.