While most of the United States was asleep or settling down on a Saturday evening, SpaceX was active. At roughly 12:30 a.m. ET, the aerospace corporation, launched one of its Falcon 9 rockets into orbit, carrying a massive Sirius XM satellite, designated SXM-8, into Earth’s orbit. The company’s 125th mission and its 18th of 2021 went off without a hitch.
The Falcon 9 rocket, which conducted most of the (literal) heavy lifting, had its third successful launch and landing. Unlike previous NASA rockets, SpaceX Falcon 9 booster is designed to be reused. Built-in thrusters spun the missile around and reoriented it for the return trip after it ferried its payload out of Earth’s atmosphere.
The rocket’s satellite-carrying nosecone (also known as the payload fairing) continued its ascent as the landing took place. The nose cone’s outer shell ripped away less than half an hour after the rocket initially lifted off, allowing SXM-8 to be sent into orbit at 1:00 a.m. ET.
As the doors to spacefaring commercial interests have opened in recent years, space launches have become much more prevalent. The SXM-8 flight, like so many other SpaceX, launches before it, took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, a Department of Defense-owned facility controlled by the United States Space Force.