On Tuesday, October 17, SpaceX marked a significant milestone by successfully launching the 74th mission of 2023, out of a total of 100 missions scheduled for the year. This remarkable achievement demonstrates the company's capacity to conduct spaceflights at an unprecedented rate, nearly double the number of launches compared to the previous year. SpaceX has launched on average once roughly every 3.92 days these past months – which is an incredible launch rate. The company also stated it has sent more than 900 metric tons to orbit this year.
The launch, which took place at 8:39 p.m. Eastern Time saw a previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket, identified as B1062-16, lift off from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/WK5xe5EgSL— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 18, 2023
This particular first-stage booster, identified as B1062-16, had previously taken flight on 15 separate occasions, including missions like: the United States Space Force’s GPS III Space Vehicle 04 and GPS III Space Vehicle 05 missions, Inspiration4, Axiom Ax-1, Egypt’s Nilesat 301, OneWeb Launch 17, and ARABSAT BADR-8. Remarkably, this mission marked the rocket's ninth Starlink deployment, illustrating SpaceX's commitment to rocket reusability and cost-effectiveness in spaceflight. Approximately 8.5 minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9's first-stage booster made a successful autonomous landing on the drone ship "Just Read the Instructions" stationed at sea, underscoring SpaceX's expertise in recovering orbital-class rockets. As of today, SpaceX has performed 273 missions, landed 236 orbital-class rockets, and reused recovered boosters 208 times.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship pic.twitter.com/uBrRt1Elwg— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 18, 2023
The highlight of this mission was the deployment of 22 Starlink V2 Mini satellites into low-Earth orbit, a part of the ever-expanding Starlink broadband satellite network. These satellites were released from the rocket's upper stage approximately 65 minutes after liftoff, marking the 27th deployment of V2 Mini satellites within the Starlink constellation. To date, SpaceX has launched a staggering total of 5,287 Starlink satellites into orbit since 2019, with roughly 4,925 of them still operational, according to data compiled by astronomer Jonathan McDowell.
The Starlink satellite constellation has been pivotal in bringing high-speed internet access to remote and underserved areas worldwide, and this rapid expansion has allowed SpaceX to serve over 2 million subscribers in more than 60 countries. The company's ability to deliver cost-effective, reliable satellite internet services reaffirms its leadership in the space industry and its commitment to connecting the world.
SpaceX's remarkable accomplishments underscore its position as a pioneering force in space exploration, and the frequent rocket reusability demonstrated in this mission plays a significant role in making space travel more accessible and economically viable. With a record number of missions in 2023 and a continually expanding satellite network, SpaceX continues to shape the future of space technology and connectivity.
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Featured Images Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.