SpaceX launched a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket with 50 Starlink satellites on February 25 at 12:12 pm ET (20:12 Moscow time). The rocket was launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
A little less than 9 minutes after launch, the first stage of the Falcon 9 returned to Earth and made a vertical landing on an unmanned floating platform “Of Course I Still Love You”, which was several hundred kilometers from the California coast. The second stage, meanwhile, continued to put the payload into orbit. About an hour after launch, the payload was deployed as planned. This was the fourth launch and landing of this first stage: it was previously used to launch the Michael Freilich Sentinel-6 satellite in November 2020, 60 Starlink satellites in May 2021, and the Double Asteroid Redirection Test probe in November 2021.
Yesterday’s launch was already the third in February for Starlink satellites: earlier, on February 3, 49 vehicles were launched into orbit (40 of which were destroyed by a geomagnetic storm in less than a week ), and on February 21 another batch of 46 satellites was sent. In order to avoid a repeat of the incident with the destruction of satellites, SpaceX decided to subsequently launch them into a higher orbit.
To date, the company has launched more than 2,000 Starlink vehicles, and there’s more to come: SpaceX has permission to launch 12,000 satellites and has applied for 30,000 more.