SpaceX reaches its 48th Falcon flight of the year
October 20 at 10:50 am E.T. from SLC-40 at Canaveral Space Force Station
This time last year SpaceX had only launched thirty Falcon 9 rockets, a still record setting pace at the time. Today though they have far surpassed that, and with over two months left until the years end, we should see close to sixty launches from the company. If the current schedule holds the next Falcon Heavy will be their fiftieth launch of the year. This comes after the next Starlink mission scheduled from Vandenberg next week. Today’s booster, 1062 is also now the sixth booster to reach the coveted tenth flight club as was successful in today’s endeavor to place another fifty-four satellites into orbit before touching down safely on the drone ship Just Read the Instructions. This high launch rate is partially aided by the shorter turnarounds between missions and the reusing of the company’s Falcon 9 boosters and fairings. Two thirds of the launches this year have been for the Starlink venture, while others have included commercial satellites, astronauts, and ISS resupply missions.
The higher launch rate has been aided by shorter turnarounds between missions at launch pads in Florida and California, and SpaceX’s reuse of Falcon 9 boosters and payload fairings. Launches carrying satellites for SpaceX’s own Starlink internet network, like the mission Thursday, have accounted for about two-thirds of the company’s Falcon 9 flights so far this year.
Fifteen minutes after launching the satellites were successfully deployed into their desired orbits. The Starlink constellation has been ever growing, and now contains more than 2700 operational satellites, and 500 moving to their desired operation areas, this is more than any other company, or even country on Earth. There are no plans to stop any time soon either, by the time SpaceX is done they will have more than ten times the current number of satellites. Starlink, which is Elon Musk’s goal to provide affordable internet across the globe, especially to remote areas has already been beneficial to regions of the U.S. in areas where emergency responders struggle to maintain a connection, as well as proving itself crucial to the Ukrainians since the Russian invasion in their country. On the seventh of this month Elon tweeted that providing the Ukrainians service has cost SpaceX eighty million dollars with that figure exceeding one-hundred million by the years end.
SpaceX also recently announced that airlines can now outfit their planes with their Starlink services beginning in 2023. The current advertised cost is 150,000 which is presumed per plan with a then monthly fee ranging between 12,500 and 25,000 per month.