Three days after becoming the first privately built rocket in history to launch humans into orbit, the first Falcon 9 booster astronaut has proven safe to return to dry land.
Although the vital importance of SpaceX’s astronaut launch and space station reach is unmatched, the fact remains that most of the company’s orbital missions are centered on the affordable launch of satellites and other unpaid payloads. All of these launches also require Falcon boosters, and the mission of Crew Dragon’s Demo-2 comes at a time when RockX’s fleet of aircraft will be at least 18 months old. .
Significantly slowing down two failed Falcon Heavy center core recoveries and losing four boosters in 2020 alone (two coincidentally, two more), SpaceX̵7;s booster arm dropped from ten to just under two of 13 months. Fortunately, the successful B1058’s May 30 landing and June 2 return adds a third booster to SpaceX’s readily available rocket. On the horizon, two additional unflown boosters are in the final stages of preparation for their separate launch debuts – not earlier than (NET) June 30 and August 30, respectively. With a bit of luck, SpaceX’s proven flight booster has been growing nearly three times in almost months.
To date, SpaceX’s own Starell satellite internet constellation is by far the largest source of demand for SpaceX rockets – especially proven flights that allow the company to make launches at an unprecedented cost. For the past 12 or so months, thanks to the amazing success of using the Falcon 9 Block 5 again, PartyXX has been cutting production booster at its headquarters in Hawthorne, California, dedication of the last six boosters made to rigorous, high-profile missions for NASA and the US military.
In other words, while SpaceX technically had three unmatched Falcon 9 boosters – B1058, B1060, and B1061 – more or less ready to fly for months, their first launch have to reserve for a select few customers who still have reservations about flight-proven rockets. Through its first dedicated mission – the orbital astronaut of the launch of the Crew Dragon clock – today, the gently-used Falcon 9 booster B1058 can be thanked for getting into SpaceX’s wider fleet and beginning to prepare for the next launch.
Thanks to the fact that the first flight of the B1058 had a relatively mild atmospheric seizure and landing, it could potentially turn around for its next launch very quickly. With three Starlink launches scheduled for June only and the first expected to launch as early as 9:25 pm EDT (01:25 UTC), June 3rd, SpaceX may actually have to change the B1058 faster than any booster before it. SpaceX currently has two Falcon 9 boosters (B1049 and B1051) available for Starlink launch. The B1049 is set to launch this week, while the B1051 flew its fourth mission just six weeks ago. Based on SpaceX’s current record of 62 days between the launch of the same booster, the B1051 could be ready for its fifth mission in late June.
In other words, unless SpaceX brings its Falcon Heavy side booster B1052 or B1053 retiring flights later this month, the company will need to break the booster turnaround record by a large margin with B1049 or B1058. SpaceX certainly has a funny way of resting its furniture.
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