SpaceX sent one of its first-stage boosters into the sky for the 11th time on Tuesday night. Unlike his previous 10 flights, however, he did not return this time.
The mission launched from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 9:57 p.m. ET, lighting up the night sky as the Falcon 9 rocket roared into space.
Thirty-five minutes after leaving the launch pad, the Falcon 9 second stage deployed a communications satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit for French satellite operator Eutelsat.
The Falcon 9 first-stage booster was SpaceX’s oldest active rocket and previously supported the launch of the Telstar 18V and Iridium-8 missions, as well as nine missions deploying Starlink internet satellites.
SpaceX usually lands its Falcon 9 first-stage boosters soon after launch, but since this mission required more power to launch the 12,000-pound satellite into orbit, there wasn’t enough fuel to bring the booster back.
Using the same section over and over again has allowed SpaceX to offer launch services at more competitive prices, since it doesn’t need to build a new rocket for each mission. But as Tuesday’s flight demonstrated, it’s occasionally not possible to get it home.
This was the 52nd mission involving a Falcon 9 rocket in 2022, with 12 more planned before the end of the year. It means 2022 will be SpaceX’s busiest to date in terms of Falcon 9 missions, breaking last year’s record of 31 launches.
Earlier this month, SpaceX also launched its most powerful Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time in three years on a mission for the United States Space Force.
It is also preparing for the maiden launch of its next-generation Super Heavy rocket, which will become the most powerful rocket ever flown when it finally takes off. NASA plans to use the spacecraft section of the vehicle to land the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface on the Artemis III mission currently scheduled for 2025.