Science

61 launches! SpaceX celebrates a record-breaking 2022

SpaceX took a little time to reflect on its historic 2022 in the last moments of the year.

Elon Musk’s company launched 61 orbital missions in 2022, nearly doubling its previous one-year record of 31 missions set in 2021. The new mark represents an astounding frequency, as SpaceX acknowledged in several holiday tweets last week.

“On average, SpaceX launches every 6 days from one of our three sites, with 92% of missions flown with flight-tested first-stage rocket boosters, and the Falcon 9 now holds the world record for the most launches of a single ship type in a single year. ,” the company tweeted Dec. 30. (will open in a new tab)shortly after a Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched the Israeli EROS C-3 Earth satellite on SpaceX’s last mission in 2022.

“Most importantly, SpaceX has successfully delivered our customer payloads into orbit, deployed additional Starlink satellites that increase our network capacity, delivered mission-critical cargo and astronauts to @space_station, and returned them safely home. [to] Earth,” added SpaceX in another tweet. (will open in a new tab) this day.

Related: 8 Ways SpaceX Changed Space Flight Forever

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Starlink is SpaceX’s huge constellation of internet satellites that serves customers around the world. As noted by Ars Technica (will open in a new tab)34 of SpaceX’s 61 launches in 2022 were primarily dedicated to building the Starlink megaconstellation of more than 3,300 active satellites. (will open in a new tab) (and I think).

The remaining 27 missions served various customers, including NASA. Last year, SpaceX launched four missions to the International Space Station for the agency, two astronaut flights and two robotic cargo missions. All four used the company’s Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 workhorse.

Last year, the Falcon 9 flew all but one of SpaceX’s orbital missions. The only exception was USSF-44, a November 1 flight for the US Space Force, which used a powerful Falcon Heavy rocket. Prior to USSF-44, the Falcon Heavy has not flown since June 2019.

As impressive as 61 launches in one year may be, the new record may not last long. Musk said in August (will open in a new tab) that SpaceX is “aiming for up to 100 flights” in 2023. This will be almost two orbital missions per week.

SpaceX already has one flight scheduled this year: Falcon 9 lifted 114 small satellites on Tuesday (January 3) as part of a joint mission called Transporter-6. Transporter-6 was the company’s 200th successful orbital flight overall and the 15th mission for the Falcon 9 first stage, setting a SpaceX reuse record set just last month.

Mike Wall is the author of Out There (will open in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrations by Carl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (will open in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or facebook (will open in a new tab).

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