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 goal was for “Falcon [to] launch around once a week” throughout the year, shortly after a NASA oversight panelist revealed that the company was seeking 52 missions in 2022. Musk had also tweeted in October 2020, continuing 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 far short of its goal, but it did set a new annual record with 31 flights in a single year. However, perhaps even more important than the new record was the fact that SpaceX was able to complete six launches in four weeks at the end of 2021.
That impressive and unexpected achievement would turn out to be an explicit sign of things to come in 2022SpaceX’s successful completion of three launches in 36.5 hours is merely an extension of that feat. SpaceX conducted three of those six launches in 69 hours during the same four-week timeframe towards the end of 2021. SpaceX did it again two months later, launching three Falcon 9 rockets in 67 hours from all three of its Falcon launch pads.
More crucially, over the first half of 2022, SpaceX was able to maintain an average tempo of more than one Falcon launch per week, completing its 26th Falcon mission, of the year on June 19th with another two launches planned before the end of the month. SpaceX has actually sustained that cadence for even longer. SpaceX has accomplished 32 Falcon 9 launches in less than seven months since November 24th, 2021.
The company’s latest hat-trick or triple-header began on Friday, June 17th, when Falcon 9 booster B1060 lifted off at 12:09 pm EDT from SpaceX’s NASA Kennedy Space Center LC-39A pad, helped carry another 53 Starlink V1.5 satellites into space, and became the first Falcon booster to launch and land 13 times. Starlink 4-19 was also SpaceX’s 49th dedicated Starlink launch, SpaceX’s 50th consecutively successful Falcon booster landing, and 100th successful Falcon booster reuse, 22 hours later, a second Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from SpaceX’s Vandenberg Space Force Base SLC-4E pad at 7:19 am PDT, Saturday, June 18th carrying the first of three Sarah radar satellites for Germany and an unspecified number of rideshare payloads. 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.
Finally, on Sunday, June 19th, at 12:27 a.m. EDT, a third Falcon 9 rocket launched from SpaceX’s LC-40 pad at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, carrying a single spare Globalstar-2 satellite communications satellite and, apparently, several secret rideshare payloads. Falcon 9’s Globalstar launch occurred just over 14 hours after Sarah-1, breaking SpaceX’s record time between two orbital launches.
Globalstar FM15 was also SpaceX’s 26th launch of the year, with one launch per 6.5 days in the first half. SpaceX still has plans to launch Starlink 4-21 on June 25th and the SES-22 geostationary communications satellite on June 28th, so June isn’t gone yet. If both launches go off without a hitch, SpaceX will have 28 successful orbital launches by the end of 2022. More importantly, following two more launches in the final days of June, SpaceX will have launched 17 times in a single quarter, equaling 68 missions per year if sustained for four quarters. In the history of spaceflight, a single rocket family has never successfully launched more than 61 times in one year.