A recent mission launch from SpaceX’s launchpad is the latest talk in the space exploration scene. The launch marks SpaceX’s 26th launch this year, the highest number of launches recorded in a single year by the company. However, this launch not only gains novelty for being the launch of the highest number for the company, but it is also the third launch handed by SpaceX’s trusted Falcon 9 booster rocket. The rocket is a marvel as it sets to show SpaceX’s vision for reusable rocket parts is possible.
The booster works by blasting to space and guiding itself back to earth, different from traditional thrusters that crashed ago, rendering them unusable. The booster managed to land at SpaceX has designated Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. This launch marks the booster’s 50th operation since 2015, when the company first tested its booster recovery technology.
The engine’s return landing works by conducting self-correcting burns on its way down using a combination of thrusts slowly descending to touch down on its prescheduled landing pad. The engine first detaches itself from the primary cargo to do a balancing dance routine of thrusts. The launch took advantage of SpaceX’s land-based landing pad, although the company has a backup of drone landing ships, namely “Of Course I Still Love You” and the other “Just Read the Instructions.”
Both ships were unavailable following their involvement, returning previously launched thrusters. “Just Read the Instructions” is currently returning the previously launched thruster that launched the Sirius XM satellite mission. Meanwhile, “Of Course I Still Love You” sits on standby, waiting for engagement following a scheduled launch in the future. The ships land the collected thrusters at the Florida based port Canaveral then scheduled for transportation back to SpaceX Centre for examination before being repurposed for the next launch.
However, the launch gained most recognition from being shrouded in mystery following a directive launch from the National Reconnaissance Office. This launch was unique as it marked the second stance of the agency’s deviation from dependency on the government launch systems for less costly alternatives. The first NRO-SpaceX launch occurred in May 2017 during the NROL-76 mission.
This Falcon 9 rocket launch also marks SpaceX’s deviation from a predefined tradition of firing up the engines for a test. The company usually holds down the rock to the pad and conducts a routine test on all nine rocket engines to ascertain their functionality. However, for this launch, SpaceX chose to skip the test, opting to go for a straight launch.