SpaceX continues to chain records. The firm indeed completed three launches in just 36 hours, marking the fastest three-mission sequence in history for a commercial launch company. Despite this feat, the company is going through a turbulent period internally.
East Coast to West Coast
The three launches were carried out by a Falcon 9, SpaceX’s reusable and ultra-reliable launch vehicle. The first took place this Friday, June 17 from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. The rocket thus propelled 53 Starlink satellites into low orbit, completing a little more the constellation whose mission is to bring high-speed Internet to the most isolated areas of the world. This launch is also a new record: the booster made its thirteenth flight with a landing on a barge.
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The second launch took place the following day from Space Complex 4E at Space Force Base Vandenberg in California. This time, the Falcon 9 carried the SARah-1 radar imaging satellite, built by Airbus for the German military. The launcher used had already carried out two missions this year. Finally, the third launch of this impressive series was carried out on June 19 from Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral base in Florida. The Falcon 9 carried a spare satellite for low Earth orbit satellite operator Globalstar.
The three boosters were recovered for reuse, a feat when you consider that seven years ago, reusing rockets seemed almost impossible. This demonstrates how SpaceX has changed the game in this sector after countless failed launches, Elon Musk’s company is now a real reference and is one of NASA’s most important partners.
Despite the new record set by SpaceX, an event recently tarnished the image of the company valued at more than 125 billion dollars. Indeed, several employees wrote a letter in which they expressed their dissatisfaction with Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, and called for more inclusivity within the company. ” Elon’s behavior in the public sphere has been a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, especially in recent weeks. As CEO and most prominent spokesperson, Elon is considered the face of SpaceX – every tweet sent by Elon is a de facto public statement by the company. It is essential to make it clear to our teams and our potential talent pool that their messages do not reflect our work, our mission or our values “, could we read there.
They made particular reference to the accusations of sexual harassment weighing against the billionaire, as well as the incredible outings of the latter on Twitter since his announcement of the takeover of the social network. Shortly after the letter was released, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell announced the firing of several of the firm’s employees involved in writing the letter.
She stated that ” the letter, the solicitations, and the general process made employees feel uncomfortable, intimidated, intimidated, and/or angered because the letter pressured them into signing something that did not reflect their opinions “. Distributing the letter, she added, was against company policies. and did not demonstrate the strong judgment necessary to work in this very difficult sector that is space transport “.
SpaceX is on several fronts
Despite everything, SpaceX has already carried out 26 launches in 2022 and is therefore continuing its frantic pace of 2021, the year during which the company operated 31. This year, this number could therefore double. In addition to its Falcon 9 and Starlink, SpaceX is focusing on Starship, its superheavy launch vehicle that could overshadow NASA’s SLS.
If the prototype of the rocket has not yet made an orbital flight, it could soon be the case, SpaceX having finally obtained the necessary authorizations from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In addition, Starship has been chosen by the American space agency as a lander within the framework of the Artemis program, during which humans will return to the Moon.