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SpaceX Completes its 15th Starlink Mission

On Tuesday November 24, at 9:13 p.m. EDT, SpaceX successfully completed its 15th Starlink mission. The Falcon 9 B1049 rocket lifted off from Space Launch Complex-40, located in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The booster carried a fresh batch of 60 Starlink satellites as payload.

The booster’s first-stage separation occurred approximately nine minutes after launch. It ultimately landed on SpaceX’s “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship. The mission was also SpaceX’s fourteenth Starlink launch in 2020 alone.

How Many Starlink Satellites SpaceX Has Deployed So Far?

SpaceX has launched 895 satellites into orbit thus far. Although it may seem like a huge number, the company has yet to deploy 10% of its entire constellation. 

In 2017, the FCC granted approval to SpaceX to launch 12,000 Starlink satellites into low-earth orbit. The company’s objective is to deploy the constellation in its entirety by mid-2027.

Falcon 9 B1049 Retrieved Following the Launch of Starlink’s 11th Mission Last August – Image Source: Matt Cutshall / Facebook

Falcon 9 Reusability Milestone Within Reach

The Falcon 9 B1049 booster became the first rocket among SpaceX’s fleet to fly for the seventh time. This means that the rocket has now been successfully reused for the sixth time by SpaceX.

Back in 2016, company founder and CEO Elon Musk claimed that parts of the Falcon 9 could be reused up to 100 times. Musk, however, also stated that 10 to 20 reuses out of a single vehicle should be expected. 

The B1049 is thus 70% of the way towards achieving the milestone of ten launches. Rocket reusability enables SpaceX to recoup approximately $46.5 million per launch. The company is thus able to accomplish one of its main goals: drive down the cost of space access.

Overall, SpaceX is deploying its Starlink satellite constellation at a steady pace. The company already rolled out a public beta in both the United States and Canada. User feedback thus far has been unanimously positive. 

Additionally, Elon Musk also tweeted on November 14, that a “big expansion” of the beta program is due “in 6 to 8 weeks”

At this rate, SpaceX will definitely provide global coverage by 2021.

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