Exactly six years after its first successful recovery, SpaceX has landed a Falcon booster for the 100th time.
On December 21st, 2015, the first Falcon 9 V1.2 Full Thrust (Block 1) rocket lifted off from SpaceX’s Cape Canaveral LC-40 launch pad on the company’s return-to-flight mission after a catastrophic in-flight failure just six months prior. Unwilling as ever to waste an opportunity, no matter how important the mission, SpaceX – on top of debuting a major Falcon 9 upgrade – chose to take advantage of the return to flight to attempt to land a Falcon booster back on land for the first time ever. Ultimately, on top of successfully deploying multiple Orbcomm OG2 communications satellites in orbit for a paying customer, Falcon 9 booster B1019 sailed through its boostback, reentry, and landing burns without issue. About nine minutes after liftoff, the rocket ultimately touched down on a concrete “landing zone” just a few miles from where it lifted off with uncanny ease relative to SpaceX’s numerous failed attempts in the ~18 months prior.
Exactly six years later, on December 21st, 2021, Falcon 9 booster B1069 lifted off from Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Pad 39A with an upgraded, flight-proven Cargo Dragon in tow for SpaceX’s 24th International Space Station (ISS) resupply mission. CRS-24 also marked the company’s 31st and final launch of 2021, representing more successful Falcon launches completed in a single year than SpaceX had even attempted in its entire nine-year history up to the point of that first successful booster landing.
Thankfully, no such fate befell B1069 and the booster now has a potentially long and productive life of launches in front of it. With just a single NASA mission under its belt, the Falcon 9 is a prime candidate to launch SpaceX’s upcoming Axiom-1 private astronaut mission, though it could just as easily support any number of upcoming missions for the US military, NASA, the Italian Space Agency (ASI), or other major customers.SpaceX lands 100th Falcon booster