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3 rockets in 3 days: SpaceX reaches a new infernal rate

SpaceX maintained a new, particularly sustained pace in June 2022: it chained three rocket launches over the course of three days.

You might have seen it if you follow SpaceX’s Twitter account. The last few days have been very intense for the American company. And for good reason: it has chained space missions over the course of three days. Three shootings occurred in the United States at a rate of one per day. Never had Elon Musk’s company maintained such a pace for so long.

Record activity for SpaceX

This very continuous sequence began on June 17, 2022 at the Cape Canaveral launch base from launch pad 39A. A Falcon 9 rocket, whose first stage had already been used for thirteen other missions, hurtled into space. On board 53 satellites to further strengthen the Starlink constellation, which has more than 2,400 units already in orbit.

The next day, SpaceX switches to the other side of America: in the Vandenberg base of the Space Force, in California, the company was organizing the SARah-1 mission. The liftoff, still with a Falcon 9 rocket whose main stage had already been used twice, took place from the SLC-4 launch pad. The flight was a success.

On June 19, you return to Florida, this time for the Globalstar FM15 mission. The launch took place from the Cape Canaveral launch base, but it was necessary to use a different launch area: SLC-40. There, too, the rocket had already been used for other missions – it had nine flights on the clock. This third flight also ended successfully.

A Falcon 9 rocket first stage after returning from a mission. // Source: SpaceX

These three launches, which took place over the course of three days, testify to the significant effort required of SpaceX to chain the launches. It was expected: During an exchange with NASA on spaceflight safety, management indicated that it was aiming for 52 launches by 2022. This equates to an average of one launch per week.

We are thus beginning to witness starts that are tight on time. By the end of 2021, the American company had completed two missions in less than 24 hours. And in May there were two shots in a row on the 13th and 14th each time for the Starlink constellation. With the three departures taking place on June 17th, 18th and 19th, alternating between the US East and West coasts, a new milestone has been reached.

SpaceX is leveraging a business model that markets low-cost launches to capture significant market share in the satellite launch market – while benefiting from strong public sector support with government launches for the army or NASA. For this, she built a reusable rocket that she retrieves after each shot.

Of course, this dynamic is in terrible contrast to the rest of the industry. In comparison, Ariane 5 was last used in December 2021 for the launch of the James Webb telescope. Six months have passed since then, and no other launches have occurred (there have been other launches, however, notably of Vega, a lighter rocket). The next one is scheduled for June 22..

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