A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket thundered to area on Thursday morning carrying its heaviest-ever payload.

Launching from the Kennedy Area Heart in Florida at 4:22 a.m. ET, the Falcon 9 took with it 56 Starlink internet satellites as a part of a payload weighing 17,400 kilograms (38,400 kilos), in accordance with feedback made throughout a livestream of the mission.

This was the ninth area journey for the first-stage booster, which beforehand launched two crewed missions to the Worldwide Area Station, in addition to the CRS-22, Turksat 5B, CRS-25, Eutelsat Hotbird 13G, and mPower-a missions, and now two Starlink missions.

As regular, SpaceX livestreamed the early phases of the flight on its YouTube channel. Beneath is a clip of the rocket departing the launch website on Thursday:

Nearly 9 minutes after leaving the launchpad, the Falcon 9’s first-stage booster returned to Earth to carry out an ideal touchdown on SpaceX’s drone ship, known as Simply Learn the Directions, which was ready off the Florida coast.

Sending the booster on its ninth flight, and bringing it safely house once more, is a salute to the wizardry of the SpaceX engineers who developed the system for reusing the primary stage of the Falcon 9 booster. Such a course of allows SpaceX to slash the price of area flights whereas providing a larger frequency of flights for patrons, amongst them NASA.

Whereas 9 flights might sound spectacular, SpaceX has one other booster that’s already been on 15 missions to area. After returning to Earth, the boosters are taken away for checks and refurbishment work earlier than being delivered again to the launchpad.

SpaceX is now on the point of use one in all its Falcon 9 rockets for a crewed flight in late February, its first such mission since October 2022. The Crew-6 mission will ship a global crew of 4 astronauts to the Worldwide Area Station aboard a Crew Dragon that, just like the boosters, has already conduced a number of missions.

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