SpaceX on Tuesday 16 February launched a batch of 60 Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit. While the launch was a success, for the most part, the Falcon 9 rocket missed the landing on its way back.

The rocket – a Falcon 9 F9 B5 B1059.6 – failed to stick its landing on a floating platform, the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship, out in the Atlantic Ocean. Watch the footage here.

The launch was scheduled for 22:59 Eastern Standard Time (EST) on Monday 15 February 2021, or 5:59 South Africa Standard Time (SAST) on Tuesday. This after the launch was postponed from last week due to the weather.

The satellites were launched from the Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Deployment of the satellites was confirmed T+ 01:04:53.

This was the sixth launch of this Falcon 9 booster, which previously supported Dragon’s 19th and 20th cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station, SAOCOM 1B, as well as the NROL-108 launch and a Starlink mission.

According to NASA, this was the second of four planned Starlink launches in February, “as SpaceX takes advantage of a lull in missions for external customers to ramp up the deployment of their internet constellation”.

SpaceX manufacturing engineer Jessica Anderson said during live launch commentary that Falcon 9’s missed landing was “unfortunate”.

“It does look like we did not land our booster on Of Course I Still Love You tonight. It is unfortunate that we did not recover this booster but our second stage is still on a nominal trajectory.”

This breaks a 24 consecutive Falcon 9 launch-streak, either on drone ships or on land. The previous launch failure took place in March 2020, and was the second failure in three Falcon 9 launches, according to Space News.

Despite the Falcon 9 failure, the Starlink programme is still on track. This launch brings the number of operational satellites in orbit to a total of 1 081. The full launch can be viewed here.

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SpaceX as two more launches planned for February. The F9 B5 B1049.8 Falcon 9 booster will carry the next batch of sixty satellites into space on 17 February 2021 at 21:45 PST, followed by another launch later this month.

A launch is also planned for March 2021, however, a date will be announced closer to the time. SpaceX has authorization from the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch a total of 12 000 satellite.

On 15 October 2019, the FCC submitted filings to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) on SpaceX’s behalf to arrange for an additional 30 000 additional Starlink satellites to supplement the 12 000 already approved.

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