SpaceX set a record 31 launches in 2021, but its more-than-weekly pace in 2022, including a Sunday morning launch, allowed it to match that record less than seven months later.
At 10:20 a.m. Eastern Time, a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 53 more Starlink internet satellites into orbit lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40.
This is SpaceX’s 13th use of a first-stage booster, with this booster previously flying on Crew Dragon’s first demonstration mission, the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, SXM-7, and nine Starlink missions. It’s also been used at all three of SpaceX’s launch facilities, taking off from Kennedy Space Center and Vandenberg Space Force Base on missions carrying nearly 600 payloads into space.
The majority of this year’s launches have been in support of the Starlink internet constellation, which is now active in approximately 40 markets worldwide. This is the 17th Starlink launch of the year and the 52nd since the first operational deployment in 2019, with over 2,800 satellites launched into orbit.
The 570-pound satellites orbit at a height of about 341 miles. SpaceX has approval for 4,408 operational satellites but is seeking FCC approval to increase its presence to around 30,000 with future launches on its in-development Starship rocket.
The service is part of the company’s revenue-generating strategy to help Elon Musk achieve his long-term goal of sending humans to Mars and establishing a colony there.
Since 2008, SpaceX has conducted 169 successful launches and recovered 131 of its boosters from Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets.