SpaceX just broke its annual Falcon 9 launch record — and it’s only July

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This afternoon, SpaceX efficiently launched its thirty second Falcon 9 mission of 2022, formally breaking the corporate’s personal report for orbital launches performed in a single 12 months. And because it’s solely July, there’s nonetheless loads of 12 months left to push that report even larger.

SpaceX has been steadily rising its launch cadence annually — except for a dip in 2019. For 2021, the corporate pulled off 31 launches, probably the most it had ever executed, which additionally made SpaceX probably the most prolific American launch supplier by far.

In the beginning of 2022, SpaceX set an incredibly ambitious goal of launching 52 missions over the course of the 12 months. That quantity was revealed by a NASA security advisory panel in January, with a phrase of warning that SpaceX ought to nonetheless try to keep up security amid the elevated tempo. “NASA and SpaceX should be watchful throughout 2022 that they’re not victims of their success,” Sandy Magnus, a former NASA astronaut and member of NASA’s Aerospace Security Advisory Panel, mentioned through the January assembly.

However to date, SpaceX has been sticking to its schedule, with nothing however seamless missions this 12 months. Mockingly, SpaceX had initially hoped to launch right this moment’s missions on Thursday however stopped the countdown brief after an abort was triggered lower than a minute earlier than takeoff. It was a uncommon abort for SpaceX, which hasn’t needed to lower a countdown brief in lots of months attributable to a technical situation. The corporate was capable of get off the bottom right this moment, nonetheless, after an uninterrupted countdown.

One key issue that permits for such a busy launch schedule is that, in a majority of SpaceX’s launches this 12 months, SpaceX is serving as its personal buyer. The corporate is utilizing these launches to flesh out its large internet-from-space Starlink constellation, lofting batches of as much as 53 satellites at a time (although the numbers differ from launch to launch). Right now’s flight out of Vandenberg House Pressure Base in California put up an extra 46 Starlink satellites. The corporate at the moment has roughly 2,600 Starlink satellites in orbit.

Even with out the Starlink launch, SpaceX has had loads of different missions to maintain the corporate busy. Because of its partnership with NASA, SpaceX periodically sends Dragon capsules — carrying cargo and folks — to the Worldwide House Station. The corporate additionally has its Transporter missions, during which numerous small satellites are packed collectively and deployed throughout a single mission. All of that, on prime of SpaceX’s industrial clients and launches for the Protection Division, create a busy manifest.

Practically all of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets which have launched this 12 months have been automobiles which have beforehand flown earlier than, as the corporate continues to grasp touchdown and reusing its rockets. SpaceX can also be completely flying on the Block 5 model of its Falcon 9, which is optimized for reuse. Right now’s rocket did efficiently land on certainly one of SpaceX’s drone ships after takeoff, marking the one hundred and twenty fifth total touchdown of the corporate’s Falcon 9 rocket.

Now that SpaceX has beat its report, the corporate continues to be shifting full steam forward. There’s already one other mission set for Sunday, July twenty fourth, out of Florida, to launch one other batch of Starlink satellites.

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