SpaceX's 10th launch of the year was a photogenic one.
The moon comes close to photobombing the early morning launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. SpaceX photographers even captured the rocket streaking in front of the nearly full Snow Moon.
About eight minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9's first stage landed as expected on the droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas, available in the Atlantic Ocean a few hundred miles (or kilometers) off the Florida coast.
This was the 12th time this particular booster launched and landed, according to a SpaceX mission description. The manifest of previous missions include six other Starlink excursions and two prominent private astronaut flights: The Ax-1 journey to the International Space Station in April 2022 and the Inspiration4 Earth orbit mission in September 2021.
Falcon 9 launches 55 Starlink satellites to orbit pic.twitter.com/kASyhCqrkoFebruary 12, 2023
The launch furnished 55 more members of the fast-growing Starlink constellation, which includes more than 3,500 operational satellites so far. SpaceX has permission to include 12,000 Starlink spacecraft altogether and has applied to add 30,000 more.
The Falcon 9 rocket has made nine of the 10 launches of 2023, with one other performed by the powerful Falcon Heavy rocket. It is possible that Starship, a next-generation spaceship that will be tasked with bringing payloads and people to the moon and beyond, will make its first attempt at orbit soon following a huge test engine burn last week, according to CEO Elon Musk.
Elizabeth Howell is the co-author of "Why Am I Taller?" (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book about space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.