Following a very busy 2020 that saw it make a number of achievements, including the launch of the first astronauts to space from American soil since 2011, SpaceX completed its first rocket launch of 2021 on Thursday.
The Elon Musk-led company sent a communications satellite for Turkey into orbit via its Falcon 9 rocket, lifting off from Cape Canaveral, Fla. at 9:15 p.m. EST.
Shortly thereafter, SpaceX confirmed it successfully deployed the Turksat 5A satellite, which is said to be used to increase Turkey’s presence in space.
Later this year, SpaceX will also send the Turksat 5B satellite into space, according to Space.com.
SpaceX, which has helped Musk become the richest person in the world, was also able to successfully land the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket on the Just Read The Instructions droneship, which floated in the Atlantic Ocean. This is the fourth launch for this particular first stage. It had previously been used to send up a GPS satellite for the U.S. Space Force and the company’s growing Starlink Internet satellite business, once in September and then again in October.
Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX is also intending to recover both parts of the nose cone as well.
SpaceX is expected to have a jam-packed calendar in 2021, including the testing of its Starship SN9 prototype, which could come as early as this weekend.
The aerospace company conducted a triple Raptor Static Fire Test of the next-generation spaceflight system on Wednesday at SpaceX’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas, which briefly showed the test vehicle’s three engines light up.
Starship is a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the moon, Mars and beyond. Starship is expected to be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, with the ability to carry in excess of 100 metric tons to Earth orbit.
According to Spaceflightnow.com, SpaceX will launch more than 40 rockets this year, with some coming out of Florida and the rest out of California.
The company’s next mission will be a Transporter-1 mission, slated to occur on Jan. 14 out of Cape Canaveral.
Initially set for Dec. 16, this launch will see SpaceX send up the Falcon 9 to transport «dozens of small microsatellites and nanosatellites for commercial and government customers,» Spaceflightnow noted