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SpaceX launch marks 300th successful booster landing

Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

SpaceX sent up the 30th launch from the Space Coast for the year on the evening of April 23, a mission that also featured the company's 300th successful booster recovery.

A Falcon 9 rocket carrying 23 of SpaceX's Starlink internet satellites blasted off at 6:17 p.m. Eastern time from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station's Space Launch Complex 40.

The first-stage booster set a milestone of the 300th time a Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy booster made a successful recovery landing, and the 270th time SpaceX has reflown a booster.

This particular booster made its ninth trip to space, a resume that includes one human spaceflight, Crew-6. It made its latest recovery landing downrange on the droneship Just Read the Instructions in the Atlantic Ocean.

The company's first successful booster recovery came in December 2015, and it has not had a failed booster landing since February 2021.

The current record holder for flights flew 11 days ago making its 20th trip off the .

SpaceX has been responsible for all but two of the launches this year from either Kennedy Space Center or Cape Canaveral with United Launch Alliance having launched the other two.

SpaceX could knock out more launches before the end of the month, putting the Space Coast on pace to hit more than 90 by the end of the year, but the rate of launches by SpaceX is also set to pick up for the remainder of the year with some turnaround times at the Cape's SLC-40 coming in less than three days.

That could amp up frequency so the Space Coast could surpass 100 launches before the end of the year, with the majority coming from SpaceX. It hosted 72 launches in 2023.

More launches from ULA are on tap as well, though, including the May 6 launch atop an Atlas V rocket of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner with a pair of NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.

ULA is also preparing for the second launch ever of its new Vulcan Centaur rocket, which recently received its second Blue Origin BE-4 engine and is just waiting on the payload, Sierra Space's Dream Chaser spacecraft, to make its way to the Space Coast.

Blue Origin has its own it wants to launch this year as well, with New Glenn making its debut as early as September, according to SLD 45's range manifest.

2024 Orlando Sentinel. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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