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SpaceX lands the first Falcon 9 rocket of 2021 like it's nothing

CNET logo CNET 1/8/2021 Eric Mack
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Elon Musk's rocket company SpaceX started 2021 off by sending a new communications satellite to space for the nation of Turkey on Thursday night. 

Turksat 5A is the first of a pair of next-generation broadcasting birds that SpaceX will boost to orbit.  The Falcon 9 elevating it to orbit lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 6:15 p.m. PT (9:15 p.m. ET). 

Turksat says the new satellite will be able to provide expanded communications capabilities to Turkey, as well as parts of Asia, Europa and Africa.

The Falcon 9 booster used for the mission successfully completed its fourth blast-off, flight and topped it all off with its fourth landing, this time on the droneship Just Read The Instructions parked in the Atlantic Ocean.

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The company also hoped to recover both halves of the fairing, or nose cone, used in the mission with the help of ships stationed in the area.

This was a relatively routine mission for SpaceX, but sets the right tone for a year that the company hopes will bring a few dozen more successful launches like this. The next mission is expected to be Transporter 1, which is a rideshare launch carrying dozens of smaller satellites to orbit as soon as next week.

a close up of a tower © SpaceX

Follow CNET's 2021 Space Calendar to stay up to date with all the latest space news this year. You can even add it to your own Google Calendar. 

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