With latest Starlink launch, SpaceX to set record for rapid reuse

Enlarge / Falcon 9, booster 1051, breaking through the sound barrier on December 13, 2020. It’s back for an eighth launch a little more than a month later. (credit: Trevor Mahlmann / Ars Technica)

SpaceX is continuing to make strides as it pushes the boundaries of reusing the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket.

On Wednesday morning, the company plans to launch its next batch of 60 Starlink satellites, reusing booster No. 1051. This will in fact be the eighth flight of this Falcon 9 rocket first stage—setting a new record for the number of uses of any single rocket core. SpaceX anticipates reaching the milestone of 10 uses for at least one Falcon 9 first stage later this year.

The upcoming launch attempt is also notable because it would represent a rapid turnaround for this first stage. The rocket last flew on December 13, launching the Sirius XM-7 mission into geostationary transfer orbit. This 38-day period would significantly beat the previous turnaround margin for a Falcon 9 first stage, which is 51 days. This suggests the company’s engineers and technicians are continuing to learn about best practices for recovering and refurbishing rockets.

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