SpaceX launches 60 Starlink satellites into orbit, misses rocket landing

Note: full Mission video attached starts at 5 minute mark.  At about 2:21 into flight, you can view the aberrational one-engine shutdown.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX successfully launched a new batch of 60 Starlink satellites into orbit today (March 18), despite an engine cutout during the flight, but was unable to stick a rocket landing at sea to cap the mission. 

 The extra sooty Falcon 9 — which made a record fifth launch with today's flight —lifted off at 8:16 a.m. EDT (1216 GMT) from Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center here in Florida, its white exterior marred by its four previous trips through the atmosphere. 

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the Falcon 9 experienced the loss of one of its nine engine during the trip to space, but was still able to deliver its Starlink satellite haul into orbit.

"There was also an early engine shutdown on ascent, but it didn't affect orbit insertion," Musk wrote on Twitter after the launch. "Shows value of having 9 engines! Thorough investigation needed before next mission."

An attempt to land the Falcon 9's first stage in the Atlantic Ocean on SpaceX's drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You" was not successful. 

"Our first stage successfully separated from the second stage, but unfortunately we did get confirmation that we were not able to land that first stage today," SpaceX manufacturing engineer Jessica Anderson said during live launch commentary. While that was disappointing, she added, but the primary Starlink mission went on as planned.

Today's on time liftoff came three days after SpaceX's first attempt. That initial flight was postponed when an engine issue triggered a last-second abort

Related: See the evolution of SpaceX's rockets in pictures


Eric Berger@SciGuySpace

Falcon 9 rocket first stage self-quarantined itself in the ocean.

Elon Musk@elonmusk

Yeah. There was also an early engine shutdown on ascent, but it didn’t affect orbit insertion. Shows value of having 9 engines! Thorough investigation needed before next mission.

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  • Posted On: 3/18/2020 9:51:46 AM
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