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SpaceX ties record with 20th Falcon 9 booster re-use in Galileo L12 launch

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasts off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 8:34 p.m. EDT on Saturday, carrying a European Union Galileo L12 navigation and positioning satellite. Photo courtesy SpaceX/X
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasts off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 8:34 p.m. EDT on Saturday, carrying a European Union Galileo L12 navigation and positioning satellite. Photo courtesy SpaceX/X

April 28 (UPI) -- SpaceX has tied its own record with the 20th use of a Falcon 9 booster with its latest and final mission, the launch of a European Union Galileo L12 navigation and positioning satellite.

The booster powered a successful lift-off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida as scheduled at 8:34 p.m. EDT on Saturday, sending the satellite into medium-Earth orbit.

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It was the 20th mission for this Falcon 9 first stage after launching more than 200 spacecraft as part of SpaceX's Rideshare program, supporting 13 Starlink Internet missions and sending a lunar lander to the Moon, among its other accomplishments, according to SpaceX.

In total, the Falcon 9 used in Saturday's launch has delivered more than 228 metric tons to Earth orbit and beyond.

It was the final mission for the booster, marking the first time a first-stage has been expended during a mission since November 2022 -- some 146 flights ago. The record of 20 flights for a Falcon 9 was set earlier this month by a different booster during a launch of some Starlink Internet satellites.

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On most Falcon 9 missions to low-Earth Orbit, the boosters hold enough fuel after stage separation to power a landing and recovery, and ultimately reuse on future missions. Saturday's Galileo launch, however, was to medium-Earth Orbit, meaning the booster was expended on its final mission.

The Galileo launch was the first two planned weekend missions for SpaceX.

On Sunday, a Falcon 9 launch carrying 23 Starlink satellites is planned for a launch from Pad 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Liftoff is targeted for 5:50 p.m. EDT, with backup opportunities available until 9:50 p.m. If needed, additional opportunities are also available on Monday starting at 5:25 p.m.

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