May 6 at 5:42 am E.T. from LC-39A at the Kennedy Space Center
You may be getting tired of hearing about Starlink satellite launches, after all there have been forty-three operational launches in all with a total of 2,494 satellites launched (2,249 still in orbit) but for thousands across the globe they are dependent on these satellites. Starlink is providing internet communication via a low Earth orbit that delivers fast, low-latency service to locations where regular internet is unreliable, unavailable, or just expensive. In total there will be 42,000 of these satellites orbiting our Earth, reaching every corner near or far to connect our peoples. Once the fully complete the venture is expected to bring in between 30-50 billion dollars annually and will largely finance SpaceX’s Starship program, along with Mars Base Alpha.
This eighteenth launch for SpaceX came in the wee hours of the morning on a mostly clear night so the nine Merlin 1D engines lit up the sky as the rocket soared higher and higher. About eight minutes after launching, B1058, the Falcon 9 first stage touched down on the drone ship A Shortfall of Gravitas, the newest drone ship in the fleet. This morning also marked the 152nd Falcon 9 launch from the company, with B1058 now making up twelve of those flights.
The third First stage booster to make twelve trips up and back again began service in the launching fleet for SpaceX back in May of 2020 when it returned crewed spaceflight to American soil on that DM-2 mission where astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were the first humans to fly a whole new breed of crew capsule, the Dragon. B1058 is probably the most recognized booster in the fleet as in has the NASA “worm” logo down one side of the booster. Since the DM-2 mission SpaceX moved the NASA logo to the second stage of the rocket, where it will burn up upon reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. Many fans of SpaceX online are constantly hoping to see this booster retired and moved to a museum somewhere, but as of now it seems SpaceX will keep her flying until there’s nothing left, or it needs too much refurbishment to fly again. B1058 after this morning has flown seven Starlink missions in total, and a number of commercial customer missions including, Transporter-1, and transporter-3 along with CRS-21 and the ANASIS II missions.
Below is an infographic by @Rkyllan detailing the twelve flights of B1058.