The company known to many around the world as SpaceX appears to be firing on all cylinders after completing three launches from the US in less than 48 hours.
Missions for government agencies, private companies, as well as SpaceX’s own internet network were successfully launched Friday and Saturday from complexes in California and Florida.
Elon Musk founded Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) in 2002 and has successfully launched nearly 200 missions in its two decades in existence.
Musk tweeted his congratulations on the accomplishment shortly after the third launch, “Congrats to SpaceX Team on 3 perfect orbital launches within 36 hours!!!”
If SpaceX can keep up the pace, the company will likely continue to break records in the new year with dozens of launches already in the works, including a historic journey around the moon by private astronauts.
Both entities played vital roles in the recent mid-December missions.
Saturday, December 17, afternoon launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida
SpaceX capped off a busy 48 hours Saturday afternoon with a rocket launch of 54 Starlink satellites from the Kennedy Space Center.
The launch appeared to go smoothly at 4:32 p.m., and the company said the event set a record for the number of times a rocket booster has been reused for launches.
The reusable part of the rocket has now been used for 15 missions and has been recovered by a drone ship every time.
Falcon 9’s first stage landed on the “Just Read the Instructions” shortly after liftoff, making it possible for the company to complete a sixteenth launch with the booster, if it chooses.
SpaceX maintains its reusable rocket fleet has enabled the company to reduce costs of space travel and launch thousands of satellites into orbit.
Saturday’s payload of 54 Starlink satellites will add capabilities to SpaceX’s constellation network, providing internet access to 40 countries.
Friday, December 16, evening launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida
Around 24 hours before the Starlink launch, SpaceX completed a mission known as O3b mPOWER.
Two telecommunications satellites rode aboard a Falcon 9 rocket into orbit after liftoff Friday from Florida’s east coast.
Similar to the Starlink mission, SpaceX said the rocket’s booster successfully landed on the drone ship “A Shortfall of Gravitas” off the Florida coast.
SES, a Europe-based telecommunications company, said once the satellites are in operation, the technology will enhance broadband coverage to remote regions around the world.
“Today, with our second-generation O3b mPOWER, we are bringing game-changing technology that delivers a unique combination of multiple gigabits per second of throughput at any location, guaranteed reliability and service flexibility that is a first in the industry,” Steve Collar, CEO of SES said in a statement. “Whether we are enabling governments to carry out critical missions securely, cruise operators to provide high-speed broadband access to passengers at all times, or mobile network operators to deploy 4G/5G networks in underconnected areas or restore communications networks in down time, O3b mPOWER is the satellite system of choice for applications where performance matters most.”
Friday, December 16, morning launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket also helped launch a satellite that will observe water and help agencies understand the changing climate.
Liftoff for the joint NASA-French space agency mission happened under the night sky in Southern California Friday at 6:46 a.m.
NASA said the Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission, commonly referred to as SWOT, will measure water levels of oceans, rivers and lakes and help scientists determine how the water bodies change over time.
Agencies have used the Vandenberg base to launch satellites since 1978, and the site is considered to be ideal for missions that require polar orbits.