SpaceX has accomplished three Falcon 9 launches in less than 36 hours, demonstrating the company’s commitment to increasing launch cadences in 2022. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in February that the business’s objective was for “Falcon [to] launch around once a week” throughout the year, soon after a NASA oversight panelist disclosed that the company was seeking 52 missions in 2022. Musk had also tweeted in October 2020, maintaining a record of excessively aggressive SpaceX launch cadence ambitions, that “a lot of upgrades” would be required to meet his goal of 48 launches in 2021 — an average of four launches per month.
In the end, SpaceX fell well short of that goal, although it did establish a new yearly record of 31 launches in a year, exceeding the previous record of 26 missions set in 2020 by almost 20%. However, perhaps even more significant than the new record was the fact that, by the end of 2021, SpaceX had completed six launches in four weeks. That remarkable and unexpected feat would prove to be a foreshadowing of what was to come in 2022.
The fact that SpaceX was able to complete three launches in 36.5 hours is only a continuation of that achievement. SpaceX performed three of the six planned launches in 69 hours within the same four-week timeframe towards the end of 2021. SpaceX accomplished it again two months later, launching three Falcon 9 rockets in 67 hours from all three of its Falcon launch sites. More crucially, during the first half of 2022, SpaceX has managed to maintain an average tempo of more than one Falcon launch per week, completing its 26th launch of the year on June 19th and planning two more by the end of the month.
That pace has been maintained by SpaceX for even longer. SpaceX has accomplished 32 Falcon 9 launches in less than seven months since November 24th, 2021.
The most recent hat trick or triple-header for the firm started on Friday, June 17th, when Falcon 9 booster B1060 blasted off at 12:09 pm EDT from SpaceX’s NASA Kennedy Orbit Center LC-39A pad. This booster helped send another 53 Starlink V1.5 satellites into space and also became the first Falcon booster to launch and land 13 times. Starlink 4-19 was also SpaceX’s 49th dedicated Starlink launch, as well as the company’s 50th and 100th successful Falcon booster landings and reuses.
At 7:19 a.m. PDT on Saturday, June 18th, a second Falcon 9 rocket launched from SpaceX’s Vandenberg Space Force Base SLC-4E pad, carrying the first of three SARah radar satellites for Germany and an undetermined number of rideshare packages. Booster B1071 successfully boosted back to shore for the third time this year, touching down at SLC-4E’s LZ-4 landing pad immediately after liftoff.
After a long wait, SpaceX’s third Falcon 9 rocket blasted off at 12:27 am EDT on Sunday, June 19th from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station LC-40 pad with one spare Globalstar-2 communications satellite and many secret rideshare payloads. Globalstar was launched by Falcon 9 little over 14 hours after SARah-1, breaking SpaceX’s record for the shortest period between two orbital flights.
After 26 launches in 2022, SpaceX has averaged one launch almost every 6.5 days, according to the company’s press release. There are two more satellite launches planned for SpaceX in June: Starlink 4-21 on June 25 and SES-22, a geostationary communications satellite that will orbit the Earth every two and a half years, on June 28.
SpaceX will have 28 successful orbital launches by the end of the first half of 2022 if both launches go without a hitch. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, SpaceX is on track to have launched 17 times in the last days of June, which would put them at a rate of 68 launches a year for four quarters. A single rocket family has never successfully launched more than 61 times in a year in the history of spaceflight