Today’s flight will be the fifth launch and landing for this Falcon first stage — impressive, but far from a SpaceX record: Three different Falcon 9 boosters have a whopping 12 missions under their belts.
Such launches will likely be part of our lives for a long time to come. SpaceX plans to keeping building the Starlink network, perhaps to truly staggering proportions; the next-generation version of the constellation could eventually consist of up to 30,000 satellites.
Among its service areas is Ukraine. SpaceX has shipped thousands of Starlink terminals to the country to help it maintain its communications infrastructure, which has been damaged by the ongoing Russian invasion of that country.
The current version of Starlink is quite functional, providing internet service to people in locations around the world.
A two-stage Falcon 9 rocket carrying 53 Starlink spacecraft is set to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 6:07 p.m. EDT on Friday (2207 GMT; 3:07 p.m. local California time). If all goes as planned, the Falcon 9’s first stage will return to Earth around nine minutes after launch for a precise landing on the SpaceX droneship “Of Course I Still Love You,” which will be stationed in the Pacific Ocean.
SpaceX has launched nearly 2,500 Starlink satellites to date, a decent chunk of them recently; 11 of the company’s 18 spaceflights in 2022 so far have been dedicated Starlink missions. And SpaceX plans to launch another Starlink batch on Saturday (May 14) from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.