Thanks To SpaceX, Humans Have Launched 200 Rockets In A Year For The First Time

Thanks To SpaceX, Humans Have Launched 200 Rockets In A Year For The First Time

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SpaceX’s latest Starlink internet satellite launch that took place from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida late night yesterday marked the first time that humans have launched 200 rockets from Earth. This sets a new record in the global space industry, as SpaceX and Chinese rocket launches continue to launch countless satellites in an era of the space age that has seen a marked growth in global interest in astronautics that is unparalleled since the Apollo era, which saw the first humans land on the lunar surface.

SpaceX Comfortably Beats Its 2022 Launch Cadence Even As It Falls Shy Of Self Set Goal of 100 Rocket Launches

The past couple of years have been quite important for SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. The Falcon 9 is the world’s only fully reusable medium lift launch vehicle, and over the course of its operation, SpaceX has continuously pushed its boundaries of reusability. 2023 has seen SpaceX fly a single Falcon 9 first stage booster 17 times multiple times to set a new reusability record for a rocket. At the same time, the firm has also completed 100 launches in 365 days, a new record that it set earlier this month.

With 2023 now in its final days, SpaceX started December on a strong note and launched four rockets within eight days before being forced to stand down multiple times for the latest Starlink launch and an upcoming launch of the Falcon Heavy for the Space Force. This led to a gap of nine days between yesterday’s Starlink launch and the previous launch, making it complicated for the firm to launch 100 rockets in a calendar year.

However, while SpaceX will most likely not launch 100 rockets in 2023, its Monday night Starlink launch nevertheless marked the first time that the world, as a whole, has launched 200 rockets into space.

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The bit about the latest Starlink launch marking 200 global launches was shared by the astronomer Jonathan McDowell on X. McDowell diligently tracks and records every rocket that is launched on the planet, and he shared on the social media platform that after the Falcon 9’s second stage reached parking orbit, the mission’s international designator became 2023-200.

According to him:

With the insertion of the F9 second stage into parking orbit, the launch becomes international designation 2023-200, the first time the count of orbital launches for a year has reached the 200 mark.

A parking orbit for the Falcon 9 second stage is an intermediate orbit that sees the rocket wait before approaching its final trajectory. SpaceX’s Starlink satellites also use parking orbits to verify their systems and deorbit themselves in case of an anomaly before ascending to their final altitude. This orbit has also been touted by SpaceX multiple times as an example of its satellite sustainability, since any malfunctioning spacecraft burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere and do not lead to any space debris.

With the Starlink launch out of the way, SpaceX is now looking to five launches before it can call it a day on 2023. So far SpaceX has launched 92 operational rockets in 2023, out of which 88 were Falcon 9 rockets and the remainder were those of the Falcon Heavy. Most of the Falcon 9’s launches have been for the Starlink constellation, as the rocket has launched more than five dozen missions for SpaceX’s internet subsidiary. Combined with two Starship launches this year, the launch tally sits at 94, and if SpaceX manages to launch five more missions, then its total launches in 2023 will sit at a tantalizing 99.

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