SpaceX aims to perform more rocket launches than ever before this year. In 2020 the aerospace company completed a record-breaking launch manifest, it conducted 26 rocket launches –the most annual launches it has performed in history. Rocket reusability has played a significant role in increasing launch cadence. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launches payload to orbit and returns from space to be reused. The rocket performs propulsive landings on autonomous droneships at sea. To date, SpaceX has landed 71 orbital-class Falcon 9 boosters and reused 50.
SpaceX’s first rocket launch of 2021 deployed a Turkish communications satellite called ‘Turksat-5A.’ On Thursday night, at approximately 9:15 p.m. Eastern Time (EST), a three-times-flown Falcon 9 rocket ignited its nine Merlin 1D engines for the fourth time to launch Turksat-5A to orbit. The rocket lifted off from Launch Pad-40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Nine minutes after deploying Turksat-5A to orbit, the previously flown Falcon 9 first-stage booster returned to space, it landed vertically on the Just Read the Instructions autonomous droneship, situated approximately 650-kilometers downrange in the Atlantic Ocean. The successful landing marked the booster’s 4th landing, and the 71st recovery of an orbital-class rocket. Now, the booster identified as B1060, can be reused on a future mission. B1060 previously supported the launch of U.S. Space Force GPS III Space Vehicle 03 satellite, as well as a pair or Starlink satellite deployments.
“Falcon 9’s fairing is also flight-proven: one half previously supported the GPS III Space Vehicle 03 mission and the other flew aboard the ANASIS-II mission,” the company shared. SpaceX could attempt to recover the fairing halves with recovery ships called ‘Ms. Tree’ and ‘Ms. Chief’. Each features a giant net to catch the fairing as it falls from space and conducts a parachute-assisted landing. This article will be updated as soon as the company announces if the vessels recovered the fairing halves.
The Turksat-5A communications satellite was deployed from the rocket’s second-stage around 19 minutes after liftoff. Turksat-5A will unfurl its solar panels and use its integrated electric thrusters to operate in to geostationary orbit. The satellite is equipped with 42 transponders that will beam broadband signals of up to 50 gigabits per second, to provide television and communication services. A SpaceX broadcast commentator stated Turksat-5A will provide coverage to Turkey, the Middle East, Europe, North Africa, Central Africa, South Africa, and Mediterranean sea. Turksat-5A will be the country’s fourth satellite in space. SpaceX will also deploy the country’s next satellite Turksat-5B later this year. Both satellites are manufactured by Airbus Defense and Space.
Watch the Turksat-5A Mission