SpaceX surpasses annual launch record by reusing Falcon 9 rockets to deploy Starlink satellites

by Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo July 25, 2022

SpaceX surpasses annual launch record by reusing Falcon 9 rockets to deploy Starlink satellites

SpaceX's 2022 launch manifest has 52 missions –the most planned annual launches to date! SpaceX completed 26 launches in 2020 and set a new record with 31 missions in 2021. This week, the company surpassed its annual launch record as it completed its 33rd mission of the year. The company is performing rocket flights at an average rate of one per week. This feat is possible because SpaceX reuses Falcon 9 rockets which enables it to perform more frequent spaceflights that are cost-effective. SpaceX has increased its launch pace for Starlink missions this month. 

On Friday, July 22, SpaceX completed the Starlink Group 3-2 mission from the West Coast; A previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket lifted off a fourth time from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 10:39 PDT. It deployed a total of 46 Starlink satellites to operate in low Earth orbit. In the days ahead, the satellites will use their onboard krypton-powered ion thrusters to rise into an operational Polar Orbit in Shell 3 (see table below for orbital parameter information). 

The first-stage booster that completed the Starlink Group 3-2 mission landed atop the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship in the Pacific Ocean, approximately 8.5 minutes after liftoff. This was the fourth flight for the booster which previously launched the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office NROL-85 and NROL-87 mission, as well as Germany's SARah-1 payload. 

 

SpaceX then launched the 33rd rocket launch of the year from the East Coast on Sunday, July 24th. A flight-proven Falcon 9 lifted off the Starlink Group 4-25 at 9:38 a.m. ET from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which deployed 53 internet-beaming Starlink satellites to orbit. The satellites will operate in orbital Shell 4 (see table below). To date, SpaceX has launched 2,957 Starlink satellites since 2019. According to data by leading Astronomer Jonathan McDowell, around 2,701 satellites remain in orbit. SpaceX said it already provides internet access to 36 countries. 

It was the eighth spaceflight for the booster which previously supported the launch of the U.S. Space Force's GPS III Space Vehicle 04, GPS III Space Vehicle 05, as well as SpaceX’s Inspiration4 all-civilian mission, Axiom's Ax-1 first crew launch to the International Space Station, the Nilesat 301 payload, and now three Starlink missions. The booster was recovered soon after liftoff, it landed on the 'A Shortfall Of Gravitas' autonomous droneship. It marked SpaceX’s 133rd landing of an orbital-class rocket. SpaceX is on-track to continue performing weekly rocket launches. The next mission is expected to be in early August next week. 

 

 

Featured Images Source: SpaceX 








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