SpaceX Starlink launch offers rare live view of Falcon 9 booster landing

Update: SpaceX has aced the first half of its tenth launch of 2021 and 23rd operational Starlink launch while simultaneously offering an uninterrupted live view of a Falcon 9 booster landing from the rocket’s onboard camera for the first time in months.

While SpaceX’s official webcast got off to a rough start with no onboard camera views throughout the entirety of ascent and beginning of booster descent, whatever was causing the camera outage was fixed around seven minutes after liftoff, returning live onboard views after the first outage of its kind in years. For whatever reason, Falcon 9 booster B1058 and the satellite link it uses to transmit telemetry and live camera views behaved almost perfectly for the next few minutes, providing a nearly uninterrupted two-minute-long view of the rocket’s seventh successful landing.

For unknown reasons, those uninterrupted onboard views may have still been unusual but were substantially less rare a few years ago. Over the last several-dozen SpaceX Falcon launches, they’ve effectively faded into a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence. Regardless, Falcon 9 B1058 has become the second SpaceX booster ever to fly twice in less than four weeks, falling just four hours short of setting a new turnaround record for reusable rockets.

Falcon 9 B1058 lifts off on its second Starlink launch in 27 days. (Richard Angle)
B1058 stuck the landing aboard drone ship Of Course I Still Love (OCISLY). (SpaceX)

45 minutes after liftoff, Falcon 9’s expendable second stage relit for a brief one-second burn. Around 20 minutes later, after spinning itself end over end, the rocket commanded the deployment of its batch of 60 operational Starlink satellites, sending the spacecraft on their way to gradually spread apart, deploy solar arrays, and begin propelling themselves to their final orbits. With Starlink-23 complete, SpaceX has successfully launched 10 orbital missions in the first 95 days of 2021, a cadence that would equate to almost 40 launches this calendar year if SpaceX can sustain it.

SpaceX is scheduled to attempt its tenth orbital launch of 2021 – also Falcon 9’s two-dozenth dedicated Starlink mission – as early as 12:34 pm EDT (UTC-4) on Wednesday, April 7th.

Known as Starlink-23 SpaceX’s 23rd dedicated launch of operational Starlink satellites and 24th operational launch overall will also mark the first time a Falcon 9 rocket lifts off under daylight since January 24th – a welcome reprieve after half a dozen late-night or early-morning Starlink launches. SpaceX will offer an official webcast of the launch as usual, with coverage beginning around 12:20 pm at the links below.

In what has rapidly become the company’s default, Starlink-23 will also continue to establish that SpaceX is on track for a record-breaking number of launches this year.

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