A well-traveled SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket today launched dozens of satellites, including an experimental docking craft created by a Seattle-area startup called Starfish Space.
Starfish Space’s Otter Pup spacecraft was one of 72 payloads that were deployed into low Earth orbit after the launch of SpaceX’s Transporter-8 satellite rideshare mission from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base.
Liftoff came at 2:35 p.m. PT, just hours after SpaceX launched 52 Starlink internet satellites from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Minutes after the California launch, the Falcon 9’s first-stage booster flew itself back to a landing pad not far from the launch site, marking the ninth successful launch and recovery for that booster. It was the 200th successful recovery of a Falcon 9 booster.
Meanwhile, the rocket’s second stage reached orbit and executed a meticulously choreographed series of deployments that ended nearly an hour and a half after launch. The long list of payloads included small satellites and a re-entry vehicle, as well as an orbital transfer vehicle that carried its own complement of spacecraft.