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SpaceX is stretching the lifetime of its reusable Falcon 9 boosters

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A Falcon 9 rocket streaks into the sky over Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a mission Sunday night to deploy 22 more Starlink internet satellites.

Enlarge / A Falcon 9 rocket streaks into the sky over Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a mission Sunday night to deploy 22 more Starlink internet satellites. (credit: SpaceX)

The late-night liftoff of a Falcon 9 rocket with another batch of Starlink Internet satellites on Sunday set a new record for the most flights by a SpaceX launch vehicle, with a first-stage booster flying for a 16th time. SpaceX now aims to fly its reusable Falcon 9 boosters as many as 20 times, double the company’s original goal.

The flight followed several months of inspections and refurbishment of SpaceX’s most-flown rocket, a process that included a “recertification” of the booster to prove, at least on paper, that it could fly as many as five more times after completing its 15th launch and landing last December.

Sunday night’s mission got the booster’s extended life off to a good start.

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