SpaceX defies statistics and (already) passes the milestone of 20 take-offs in 2022

Eric Bottlaender

Space specialist

May 16, 2022 at 3:42 p.m.


SpaceX Falcon 9 Starlink Cape Canaveral © SpaceX

Falcon 9 takes off from its Cape Canaveral site.

The American giant’s teams had a busy weekend, with two rocket launches in less than 24 hours! The incredible pace of Falcon 9mainly dedicated to starlink constellationalso demonstrates the technical mastery of the company for take-offs as well as for reuses.

SpaceX makes many envious…

Flares in stock

The rate is reminiscent of the “beautiful days” of Soviet launches in the early 80s. The USSR then lined up more than a hundred take-offs into orbit each year… But the comparison has its limits. SpaceX is a private company, it uses only one launcher (moreover, reusable) and for the moment, has achieved a real faultless performance since 2016: 126 successful launches in a row for Falcon 9, which makes it in by many standards the most reliable rocket in service today, and one of the most reliable in 65 years of launches into orbit. In 2022, above all, SpaceX is accelerating and using its three launch sites at a very sustained pace: already 20 successful launches since the start of the year… Including two in less than 24 hours this weekend. All while systematically recovering the first stage of the rocket.

SpaceX sets the pace

Of course, the teams are well-honed and the processes have evolved in 12 years of operations with Falcon 9. In the same way, it has also been more than six years that SpaceX recovers rocket stages, and five years that they are reused. . The company has three boosters in its “fleet”, each totaling 12 flights, and the initial fears of lower reliability with reuse have disappeared… So much so that NASA no longer hesitates to send its astronauts to the ISS with reused stages.

Could SpaceX have succeeded in proving that its commercial concept of a “flight-tested” rocket is the right one? In recent years, the Californian firm has used its most reused floors to send its Starlink constellation. For the first time on May 14, it sent 53 satellites into orbit thanks to a new booster, perhaps because it is already in the works for the next campaigns?

Falcon 9 reuse 9

It’s been a long way since the first reuse… Credits SpaceX

No more Starlink, no more Falcon 9…

If the impressive rate of launches and the technical mastery that accompanies them are emulated, we must not forget that SpaceX is mainly used for… SpaceX. It is in fact for its own Starlink constellation that more than half of the flights are organized (13/20), which bring nothing to the operator (which, if it organizes itself at cost price, must find the funds for the shots, as Starlink’s income is not sufficient at the moment). Nevertheless, Starlink now exceeds 2,500 satellites sent, with 106 this weekend, including more than 2,000 already in operation within the constellation. The commercial offensive (in addition to support for Ukrainian users) is therefore expected in the near future because the service will no doubt be able to address more customers. And for the next Starlink generation, SpaceX is already preparing Starship…

On the same subject :
Starlink: SpaceX satellite internet is coming to France, and it will cost you almost €100/month

Source : SpaceFlight Now

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