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SpaceX successfully deploys 60 Starlink satellites despite engine failure

Photo: Ben Cooper // SpaceX
Photo: Ben Cooper // SpaceX

This morning at 8:16am EDT, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This launch was the 5th launch of operational Starlink satellites as well as the 5th reuse of a Falcon 9 first stage, a first in the Aerospace industry.

The Falcon 9 launched nominally from 39A and ascended through Maximum Aerodynamic Pressure beautifully. A few moments before MECO, Main Engine Cut Off, there was a bright flash from one of the engines. This was later confirmed by Elon Musk on Twitter, that "There was also an early engine shutdown on ascent, but it didn’t affect orbit insertion." and "Thorough investigation needed before next mission". SpaceX's Falcon 9 has 9 engines on the first stage, which gives them engine out capability which allows them to continue the mission if they lose a Merlin engine at all during flight. Obviously the second stage doesn't have this capability, as there's only one engine.

After stage separation, the first stage prepared to land on the droneship "Of Course I Still Love You" stationed out in the Atlantic Ocean, but did not land, possibly due to the engine loss that occurred before MECO, but that's just our opinionated guess.

Both fairings landed in the water and were quickly fished out and brought onto the boat in good condition.



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