SpaceX sent its second set of 60 Starlink satellites into orbit today, atop a Falcon 9 rocket that featured the fourth go-round for the first-stage booster and the first reuse of a nose cone.
Liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida came on time at 9:56 a.m. ET (6:56 a.m. PT). One of SpaceX’s launch commentators gave a nod to Veterans Day as the rocket rose: “With gratitude to our veterans, today and always, go USA!”
Minutes afterward, the rocket’s first stage flew itself back to what has now become a routine touchdown on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean, while the second stage and its payload continued to orbit. The booster had flown three times before — so today’s mission marked the first time the same rocket booster has been launched and recovered four times.
The nose cone, or fairing, was previously flown in April and was recovered at sea after that launch for its precedent-setting reuse today.