SpaceX successfully completed three Falcon 9 launches in just over 36 hours, underscoring the company’s continued push for ever-higher launch rates in 2022.
In February, shortly after a NASA watchdog panelist revealed that SpaceX was aiming for 52 launches in 2022, CEO Elon Musk confirmed that the company’s goal was to “Falcon [to] launch about once a week” throughout the year. In October 2020, continuing a tradition of extremely ambitious SpaceX launch cadence goals, Musk also tweeted that “lots of improvements” would be needed to reach his goal of 48 launches – an average of four launches per month – in 2021. Ultimately, SpaceX fell well short of that goal, but set a new annual record of 31 launches in one year, beating its 2020 record of 26 launches by about 20%. However, perhaps even more important than the new record was the fact that SpaceX was able to complete six launches in four weeks at the end of 2021.
This impressive and unexpected achievement would prove to be an explicit sign of things to come in 2022.
SpaceX’s successful completion of three launches in 36.5 hours is just one extension of that feat. In the same four-week period at the end of 2021, SpaceX completed three of those six launches in 69 hours. Two months later, SpaceX did it again, launching three Falcon 9 rockets from its three Falcon launch pads in 67 hours.
More importantly, SpaceX also managed to maintain an average cadence of After more than one Falcon launch per week throughout the first half of 2022, completing its 26th launch of the year on June 19 with two more launches scheduled before the end of the month. SpaceX has actually maintained this cadence for even longer. Since Nov. 24, 2021, SpaceX has now completed 32 Falcon 9 launches in less than seven months.
The company’s latest hat-trick or triple-header began Friday, June 17, when Falcon 9 booster B1060 lifted off at 12:09 a.m. EDT from SpaceX’s Kennedy Space Center pad LC-39A, helped to carry 53 more Starlink V1.5 satellites. in space, and became the first Falcon rocket booster to launch and land 13 times. Starlink 4-19 was also SpaceX’s 49th dedicated Starlink launch, SpaceX’s 50th consecutive successful Falcon booster landing, and the 100th successful Falcon booster reuse.
22 hours later, a second Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from SpaceX’s Vandenberg Spacebase SLC-4E platform at 7:19 a.m. PDT Saturday, June 18, carrying the first of three SARah radar satellites for Germany. and an undetermined number of carpool payloads. For the third time this year, booster B1071 successfully returned to shore and touched down on the SLC-4E’s LZ-4 landing pad shortly after liftoff.
Finally, at 12:27 a.m. EDT on Sunday, June 19, a third The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from SpaceX’s Cape Canaveral space station pad LC-40 carrying a single spare Globalstar-2 communications satellite and, apparently, several secret rideshare payloads. Globalstar’s launch of Falcon 9 came just over 14 hours after SARah-1, breaking SpaceX’s record time between orbital launches.
Globalstar FM15 was also SpaceX’s 26th launch of 2022, averaging one launch every 6.5 days in the first half of the year. However, June is not over and SpaceX still plans to launch Starlink 4-21 on June 25 and the geostationary communications satellite SES-22 on June 28. If both launches avoid delays, SpaceX will end the first half of 2022 with 28 successful orbital launches. Perhaps more importantly, after two more launches in the final days of June, SpaceX will have launched 17 times in one single neighborhood – equivalent to 68 launches per year if maintained for four quarters. In the history of spaceflight, a single rocket family has never been successfully launched more than 61 times in a year.