Death of legend: SpaceX lost a record Falcon 9 stage

The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, which set a record for the number of flights into space, overturned during transportation to the port. This is stated in a message from SpaceX.

Launch of the Falcon 9 rocket. Source: SpaceX

The stage in question had the tail number B1058. It first flew in May 2020, sending the first crewed Crew Dragon spacecraft to the ISS. As part of that mission, the red NASA logo (also known as the worm) was applied to the stage, which was used by the organization between 1975 and 1992. Since then, the B1058 has made 18 more flights, which is a record.

The stage was mainly used to launch Starlink batches, and it also sent several supply spacecraft to the ISS. In total, during its operation, B1058 launched 860 satellites with a total mass of over 260 tons into orbit. Its body was still decorated with the NASA logo, which, however, was heavily blackened due to constant flights.

The NASA logo on stage B1058. Source: Jenny Hautmann

The last 19th flight of the B1058 took place on December 23. It successfully launched another batch of Starlink into orbit, after which it landed on a barge. However, during transportation back to the port, the stage overturned on the platform due to strong winds and waves. In its message, SpaceX did not specify whether B1058 remained on the barge or fell into the sea. But in any case, its story has come to an end. The company also noted that the new Falcon 9 stages had upgraded landing legs with the possibility of self-leveling, which reduced the likelihood of such incidents happening again.

After the loss of B1058, SpaceX has three stages with comparable flight times, which account for 17 launches. Most likely, some of them will overcome the mark of 20 flights into space.

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