This afternoon at 3:10 pm EDT SpaceX successfully delivered the BulgariaSat-1 satellite to orbit. Originally scheduled to launch on Monday the flight was delayed to give SpaceX time to replace a valve on the payload fairing that, while it had a redundant system, wasn’t worth risking the launch for.
This is the eighth launch of 2017 for SpaceX which equals their previous record for launches in a single year. That record is scheduled to be broken on Sunday when the second Iridium Next launch is due to occur.
This was the second launch to use a flight proven booster, this one had previously been used on Jan 14th to launch the first Iridium Next mission. As SpaceX continue to improve their processes the time between launches of previously flown boosters should drop significantly.
The first stage successfully returned to the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS) “Of Course I Still Love You” following the successful completion of the first stage mission. As Elon Musk mentioned below this wasn’t guaranteed. On its first flight, the booster landed on the ASDS “Just Read the Instructions”.
Falcon 9 will experience its highest ever reentry force and heat in today’s launch. Good chance rocket booster doesn’t make it back.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 23, 2017