It is barely March and SpaceX already launched nearly two dozen missions. After Falcon 9 deployed a fleet of Starlink satellites to orbit on March 24, SpaceX founder Elon Musk shared that the company achieved completing the 20th launch of the year and has over 70 missions scheduled in its 2023 launch manifest. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell shared last month that the company aims to complete at least 100 Falcon 9 missions in 2023 which is nearly double what it launched in 2022. “The team is launching on average every 4 days,” said SpaceX representatives.
20 launches done, 70+ for rest of year https://t.co/71du2oOIAE— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 24, 2023
In the last couple of years, SpaceX has been doubling the amount of missions annually. It only launched 26 missions in 2020, then it launched 31 Falcon 9 missions in 2021, followed by 61 in 2022. Reusing the Falcon 9 rockets’ first-stage is what enables the company to increase its pace of spaceflight to complete a record-breaking launch manifest. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is the world’s first orbital-class rocket capable of re-flight. It is powered by nine Merlin engines, fueled by RP-1 rocket-grade kerosene, that generate 1.3 million pounds of thrust at sea level, rising to 1.5 million pounds of thrust in the vacuum of space. The Falcon 9’s first-stage booster features advanced technology that enables it to perform an autonomous propulsive landing on terra firma and sea-going landing platforms, also known as ‘droneships.’ As of today, SpaceX has landed orbital-class rockets 181 times and reused these 153 times, which is an incredible achievement in the history of rocketry. SpaceX is really setting an example for the aerospace industry to follow. Historically, rockets have been expendable making spaceflight too expensive. Some Falcon 9 rockets in its Block 5 fleet have been reused over a dozen times, proving SpaceX rockets are reliable and cost-effective.
The team is launching on average every 4 days— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 3, 2023
NASA has even purchased rides for astronauts atop previously-flown boosters which is unprecedented. The flight-proven rockets have safely propelled NASA Commercial Crew Program astronauts on the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS). SpaceX is currently the only American company capable of transporting astronauts to and from the ISS. SpaceX has launched nine crewed missions to date, six of these for NASA. The United States has human spaceflight capabilities thanks to SpaceX, NASA was dependent on Russian rockets to launch astronauts to ISS for nearly a decade after the Space Shuttle was retired in 2011. SpaceX launched the first NASA crew in May 2020. It is extremely important for the United States to have its own spaceflight capabilities with American-made technology, especially after Russia initiated a full invasion of Ukraine in early-2022. Multiple companies and organizations had to look for other launch providers to provide cargo spaceflight services to avoid ties with Russia’s Roscosmos Space Agency amid the ongoing war. Although NASA and Roscosmos maintain diplomatic ties, it is unclear what the future holds. So, SpaceX’s human spaceflight capabilities are important for the United States to remain a space power – all thanks to SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket.
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Featured Image 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.