SpaceX succeeded in its twelfth launch of 2022 in just one day over three months of the year, demonstrating a major leap in the continued launch cadence as the company strives to meet the ambitious goals set by CEO Elon Musk.
The twelfth launch was the Transporter-4, a dedicated flight-sharing mission operated by SpaceX itself. Falcon 9 lifted off on time on April 1 with fewer satellites than before on the Transporter mission – “only” 40 payloads for about a dozen customers. The rocket performed as expected, reaching parking orbit about nine minutes after liftoff. Booster B1061 – Flying for the eighth time – Landed safely on a drone ship Just read the instructions (JRTI) about a minute ago, ensuring it will be able to fly again. Over the course of more than 90 minutes, the Falcon 9 upper stage performed four separate burns to spread all 40 payloads into several different orbits before eventually ejecting itself from orbit.
Finally, the Transporter-4 was SpaceX’s 121st successful launch, 37th consecutive landing, 112th landing overall, 89th reused Falcon, and 34th launch with the reused Falcon fairing. The Falcon 9 is and remains the world’s most reliable operational launch vehicle. Equally important, it is also the most productive launch vehicle in operation today.
In 2021, SpaceX successfully launched the Falcon 9 31 times, and it did not meet the internal goals. Just before the year was over, SpaceX suddenly demonstrated its ability to complete five orbital launches in less than three weeks and six launches in less than four weeks—putting its previous records out of the water and proving the potential for massive yearly increases. Rhythm. In 2022, SpaceX has so far managed to maintain a similar tempo for an entire quarter of the year.
After Transporter 4, SpaceX launched 12 Falcon 9 rockets in 90 days. If it continues for another three quarters, the company could launch 48 times this year — a 55% increase in its annual launch cadence compared to the record 31 completed in 2021. A few weeks ago, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk established 52 launches — Once a week – as the company’s overall goal for 2022. Recently, Musk – in a classic way – raised his already important ambitions and boosted that goal to 60 launches, including at least a thousand additional Starlink satellites.
It may still be possible to achieve 52 launches within five or six months of launch. 60 launches, however, will require Rate of 5.3 launches per month for the rest of 2022 — perhaps not impossible but quite a challenge before even considering the fact that one of SpaceX’s three Falcon platforms could be bogged down with as many as five Falcon Heavy and 7 Dragon releases in the next nine months. The Falcon Heavy, Falcon 9 Dragon, and Falcon 9 Fairing launches all require major modifications to the pad hardware, modifications that can take at least a week or two to complete. Constantly switching between settings for pressure in individual Starlink or satellite launches is out of the question, but the risk of an extra schedule will increase the odds of delays on many of SpaceX’s most deferred missions, including Crew Dragon, Cargo Dragon, interplanetary spacecraft launches for NASA and two missions. Or three “national security” missions for the US military.
Even if SpaceX falls short of Musk’s ambitious goal of launching 60, it will take a small disaster for 2022 to not be the most exciting year for the company yet. This month alone, SpaceX is scheduled to launch its first all-private astronaut mission to the International Space Station no later than (NET) April 6, followed by the launch of the Starlink 4-14 NET on April 14, the NROL-85 NET on April 15, and A group of four astronauts from NASA and the European Space Agency on April 20.
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