SpaceX sets new annual Falcon rocket launch record

In early 2023, SpaceX aimed to achieve 100 Falcon rocket launches by December 31. She broke the current annual record of 60 starts in September, but it looks like she will just fall short of her ambitious goal for this year.

In SpaceX’s busiest 12-month period since the launch of the first Falcon rocket in 2010, it has so far achieved 90 flights using its heavy-duty Falcon 9 rocket and four missions using its Falcon Heavy rocket, which is essentially three Falcon 9 boosters joined together.

By the end of the year, SpaceX plans to fly the next Falcon Heavy rocket mission and two more Falcon 9 missions, bringing the total number of Falcon flights to 97. If you include the Starship missions, which both failed soon after launch, then the total will increase to 99 launches that SpaceX has completed in 2023.

SpaceX has come a long way since its first Falcon launch 13 years ago. The company’s goal was always to design a spaceflight system capable of landing the 41.2-meter-tall booster upright on the ground or on a floating barge so that it could reuse the component for multiple missions.

SpaceX has achieved its goal first successful booster landing in 2015and these days it successfully lands almost all of its Falcon rockets soon after launch. On Saturday, the Falcon 9 mission deploying more satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink system for the Internet from space made a record-breaking nineteenth booster first-stage landing. The reusable system developed by SpaceX has allowed it to offer highly competitive launch speeds, opening the door to more companies and organizations looking to send small satellites into orbit.

In its latest mission on Sunday, Falcom 9 launched a satellite from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California for German intelligence. SpaceX shared several images showing the early stages of the mission:

More photos of today’s Falcon 9 launch and landing

—SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 24, 2023

After a short Christmas break, the SpaceX team will be back at work to close out the year with three launches, two involving the Falcon 9 and one using the Falcon Heavy.

It’s been SpaceX’s busiest year yet, but the 2024 launch calendar is filling up fast and the focus is shifting to get your powerful Starship rocket into orbitnext year looks to be even busier.

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