On Saturday, Elon Musk’s SpaceX company used the same rocket stage to fly a mission for the 15th time, a record for the space company.
Why is this important?Flights to space are still extremely expensive. But a real revolution has been taking place in recent years. Instead of throwing rockets away after a flight, more and more companies and governments are developing reusable rockets. SpaceX is the undisputed leader in this field.
The essential : SpaceX used the Falcon 9 on Saturday to put 54 Starlinks satellites into orbit. The launch took place at the Kennedy Space Center in the US state of Florida.
- The rocket stage in question, serial number B1058, was first launched into space on May 30, 2020.
- This moment was historic for SpaceX. Indeed, it was the first time the company had placed astronauts in orbit.
- In the meantime, this single stage of the rocket has already put 777 satellites into orbit. It was also used for resupply of the International Space Station (ISS).
Three launches in 34 hours
Another noteworthy fact: it was SpaceX’s third launch in less than 34 hours.
- On Friday, a Falcon 9 soared into the sky from a Florida launch pad. On board were two commercial broadband satellites from the French-Luxembourg company SES.
- The launch of B1058 has been delayed to prioritize the flight mentioned above. SES is one of SpaceX’s oldest customers.
- On the same day, another Falcon 9 was launched from Vandenberg Space Base, a military spaceport in California. During this flight, an American-French satellite was placed in orbit, which will make it possible to map all the oceans, lakes and rivers of the Earth.
More and more Starlink satellites, more and more Falcon 9
The overview: SpaceX has already completed 59 flights this year, an all-time high for the company. In 2021, SpaceX launched 31 rockets into space.
- The company plans to launch even more rockets next year. Elon Musk said in August that SpaceX wanted reach 100 flights by 2023.
- These flights are often commissioned by NASA, but commercial customers are also increasingly using SpaceX’s services.
- But Falcon 9s are primarily used to launch SpaceX’s own Starlinks satellites. Since then, the company has placed more than 3,000 of them into orbit. This constellation is used to provide satellite internet worldwide.
Note : The company has a considerable lead over its competitors. Space companies Blue Origin and Rocket Lab have completed four and nine flights respectively this year.