SpaceX's record-breaking rocket falls into the ocean after the 19th mission

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The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that sent NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Douglas Hurley on the first private spaceflight to the International Space Station (ISS) capsized into the Atlantic Ocean late last night while on its way back to Earth. The rocket was the first in the SpaceX fleet, which carried out 19 consecutive successful missions, and launched nearly a thousand satellites into space after the NASA mission. Its last launch was just before the weekend when it flew with a group of Starlink satellites and landed on SpaceX's “A Shortfall of Gravitas” drone ship in the ocean.

SpaceX is putting an impressive rocket to rest after launching more than two hundred tons of satellites in less than four years

SpaceX's Falcon 9 program is arguably one of the most successful programs in the history of the launch vehicle or rocket industry. The boosters are the first of their kind in the world capable of lifting heavy payloads into space and landing vertically through their propulsion system. At the same time, because each rocket can be used more than a dozen times, the marginal costs to SpaceX and its customers for launching a payload into space are also significantly lower than they would have been if SpaceX had made its own boosters for each new rocket. launch.

The Falcon 9's fairly rapid reusability, aided by a greater number of rockets in the fleet, has been one of the biggest drivers of SpaceX's success in building the Starlink low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite internet constellation. Previous attempts at such missions have failed because building rockets means longer holding times.

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Today's booster, which should now rest on the ocean floor, has been special since its first launch in May 2020 when SpaceX launched the first crewed demonstration mission for NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP).

SpaceX's Dragon 2 vehicle atop the Falcon 9 Block 5 launch vehicle at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A 11 minutes and 50 seconds before liftoff of the DM-2 mission on May 30, 2020. The vehicle has not yet undergone first-stage engine cooling to allow for the turbopumps of the Merlin 1D engines The nine are cooled before allowing liquid oxygen (LOX) to flow through them to the main pumps. (Image courtesy: SpaceX/NASA)

After launching the astronauts, the rocket launched a South Korean military satellite, two SpaceX satellite ride-sharing missions, and 14 Starlink missions. In the three and a half years since DM-2 launched, it has lifted more than 260 metric tons, or 860 satellites and spacecraft, into space.

While the DM-2 astronaut launch rocket was the only one in the SpaceX fleet to launch 19 missions, three others completed 17 missions each. The last one flew this month to launch another military satellite for South Korea, and this rocket booster was also the first to fly and land 14 times.

It's also rare for SpaceX rockets to simply launch from a drone ship into the water, and the company described the first unplanned Falcon 9 mission as an accident. He. She subscriber On social media, “The booster flipped over the drone due to strong winds and waves“Changes to the mechanical design of the Falcon 9’s legs will ensure that similar accidents do not occur in the future.

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