SpaceX smashes its own record for rocket launches in a year achieving a whopping 61 missions
This year has been by far the busiest in terms of SpaceX rocket launches. For instance, Elon Musk’s commercial spaceflight company successfully launched 26 rockets in 2020, compared to 31 in 2018, all of which used the Falcon 9 rocket, which it has been using for years. The final mission of 2022, however, launched early on Friday ET. All of SpaceX’s missions this year have utilized the Falcon 9 rocket, with the exception of one in November that used its more potent triple-booster Falcon Heavy rocket to launch two U.S. Space Force satellites.
Since its first cargo voyage to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2012, a year in which it only carried out two launches, California-based SpaceX has undoubtedly come a long way. It also started running routine crewed flights to and from the ISS in 2020, allowing NASA to launch its astronauts into space from American soil for the first time since the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011. This is on top of putting a lot of satellites into low-Earth orbit for different customers.
Due in part to the Falcon 9’s architecture, which enables the first stage to land so that it can be conveniently deployed for many flights, SpaceX has been able to increase the frequency of its launches. This frees SpaceX from having to produce a large number of expensive single-use boosters and allows it to concentrate on refurbishing a small fleet of rockets. SpaceX has successfully completed 198 rocket launches, 159 booster landings, and 133 reflights.
2023 is expected to be an especially busy year for SpaceX as more clients seek to launch tiny satellites into orbit and SpaceX uses its spaceflight equipment to deploy a significant number of its Starlink broadband satellites. Looking further into the future, SpaceX is also getting ready for the launch of its Starship spacecraft and next-generation Super Heavy rocket. In just a few years, NASA’s Artemis III mission, which will use a version of Starship, will put the first woman and the first person of color on the surface of the moon. It may also transport the first astronauts to Mars.
The first all-civilian voyage to the moon will also include passengers thanks to Japanese businessman Yusaku Maezawa, who purchased nine seats for the dearmoon mission, which will include a flyby of the lunar surface before returning to Earth. The trip is scheduled to take place in 2023, but SpaceX is likely to miss that deadline due to testing delays with the Super Heavy rocket and Starship.