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SpaceX to resume Starlink flights, stretching reused Falcon rockets to their limits

27 Apr 2021, 21:41 UTC
SpaceX to resume Starlink flights, stretching reused Falcon rockets to their limits
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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands on pad 40 Tuesday at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The scorched first stage booster has flown to space and back six times. Credit: Steven Young / Spaceflight Now
SpaceX aims to resume launching satellites for its Starlink internet network with the liftoff of a Falcon 9 rocket Wednesday night at Cape Canaveral, and company founder Elon Musk says SpaceX will use the sizeable backlog of Starlink missions to keep pushing the envelope and find the Falcon booster’s reuse life limit.
“There doesn’t seem to be any obvious limit to the reusability of the vehicle,” Musk told Spaceflight Now in a press conference Friday after the launch of SpaceX’s third crewed flight to the International Space Station.
The launch Friday of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endeavour spaceship from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center marked the first time the company sent astronauts into space on a reused Falcon 9 booster and and a refurbished crew capsule. NASA engineers formally certified the Falcon 9’s previously-flown first stage to carry astronauts, after more than 50 successful SpaceX reused Falcon rocket flights since 2017.
“You probably don’t want to be on a life leader for a crewed mission, but it’s ...

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