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SpaceX Falcon 9 will reach the end of the year as the most launched rocket in 2020

SpaceX Falcon 9 will reach the end of the year as the most launched rocket in 2020

Falcon 9 officially ended this year as the world’s most launched rocket in 2020, with only a few global launches remaining by 2021 and the delay in SpaceX’s December launch last year. It is no exaggeration to say.

On December 19, Falcon 9 booster B1059 took off for the fourth time, carrying a secret US spy satellite into low earth orbit (LEO), marking SpaceX’s 26th successful launch and 2020’s 23rd landing. did. This is exactly the biweekly annual launch rhythm. Aside from a few surprising launches, the Falcon 9 concludes this year as the world’s most launched rocket and, in the best possible way, the world’s most reliable rocket, turning SpaceX into a potentially unprecedented 2021. I will prepare.

After the NROL-108, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 will arguably be the most launched rocket in 2020.

Perhaps thanks to Starlink and unknown hardware, software, and operational improvements, SpaceX crushed its previous annual launch record (21 flights set in 2018) by almost 25%. In 2020, the Starlink mission accounted for more than half of Falcon 9’s 26 launches, with nearly 840 operational satellites in orbit in 14 flights.

Thanks to Falcon 9’s record performance, Starlink has become the world’s largest satellite constellation, at least three to four times, if not more than five times, in a year.

SpaceX completed 14 Starlink launches in 2020. 10 are shown here. (SpaceX / Richard Angle)

Following SpaceX’s NROL-108 mission, perhaps a few more international launches are planned between now and 2021. Overall, the world’s launch providers have successfully completed about 103 launches, nearly a quarter of which are credited only to Falcon 9. Russia’s R-7 (Soyuz 2.1) family managed 14 successful flights, but five significantly different variants of China’s Long March 2, 3, and 4 rockets were 24 times in 2020. The launch has been completed.

In general, China plans to complete 38 orbital launch attempts in 2020 (33-34 of which were successful), slightly bordering or detaining the United States (37 attempts; 34 successes). ) *.

*Data collected from Ed Kyle’s wonderfully hard-working launch log

Perhaps most importantly, SpaceX seems to be on track to break the impressive 2020 launch record of 2021, largely due to the first ongoing stream of reusability in Falcon 9. Check the first, fourth, fifth, and sixth reuses of the Falcon 9 booster. As with the third and first flight of the payload fairing, there is little doubt that SpaceX will be able to reach (and perhaps exceed) the 10-flight target set for each Falcon booster in 2018.

In the last three months of 2020, SpaceX will make its debut as a crew dragon operational astronaut, the first flight of an upgraded cargo dragon spacecraft, and the first West Coast launch of Falcon 9 in about 18 months. Managed 10 impressive orbital launches, including milestone missions.

Ultimately, SpaceX proved the annual rhythm of more than 40 launches and the 48-flight goal stated by CEO Elon Musk by completing nearly 40% of the annual launches in a single quarter. .. Good Within reach next year.

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