Ars Technica reports:

In three-and-a-half years of service, one of SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9 boosters stands apart from the rest of the company’s rocket inventory. This booster, designated with the serial number B1058, has now flown 18 times.

For its maiden launch on May 30, 2020, the rocket propelled NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken into the history books on SpaceX’s first mission to send people into orbit. This ended a nine-year gap in America’s capability to launch astronauts into low-Earth orbit and was the first time a commercial spacecraft achieved this feat… Over the course of its flights to space and back, that white paint has darkened to a charcoal color. Soot from the rocket’s exhaust has accumulated, bit by bit, on the 15-story-tall cylinder-shaped booster. The red NASA worm logo is now barely visible.

On Friday night, this rocket launched for the 18th time, breaking a tie at 17 flights with another Falcon 9 booster in SpaceX’s fleet… It fired three engines for a braking burn to slow for reentry, then ignited a single engine and extended four carbon-fiber landing legs to settle onto a floating platform holding position near the Bahamas. The drone ship will return the rocket to Cape Canaveral, where SpaceX will refurbish the vehicle for a 19th flight.

Other interesting statistics from the article:

  • This single booster rocket has launched 846 satellites into space. (Astrophysicist/spaceflight tracker Jonathan McDowell calculates there are now over 5,000 Starlink satellites in orbit.)
  • A SpaceX official told Ars Technica the company might extend the limit on Falcon 9 booster flights beyond 20 for Starlink satellites.
  • Friday’s launch became the 79th launch so far in 2023 of a Falcon rocket, with SpaceX aiming for a total of 100 by the end of December, and 144 in 2023 (an average of one flight every two-and-a-half days).
  • Since 2016, SpaceX has now had 249 consecutive successful launches of its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets