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SpaceX completes two Starlink launches hours apart

SpaceX last night completed two Starlink launches hours apart from opposite coasts. First its Falcon 9 rocket took 23 Starlink satellites into orbit, lifting off from Cape Canaveral. The first stage completed its 16th flight, landing on a drone ship in the Atlantic.

Then, a Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg carried 20 Starlink satellites into orbit, its first stage completing its 21st flight (tying the record), landing safely on a drone ship in the Pacific.

The leaders in the 2024 launch race:

62 SpaceX
27 China
8 Russia
7 Rocket Lab

American private enterprise now leads the world combined in successful launches, 72 to 41, while SpaceX by itself leads the entire world, including other American companies, 62 to 51.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

 
The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.


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"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News

10 comments

  • Terry

    Bob,

    Booster B1062 achieved 21 launches on May 18.

    Jan……10
    Feb…….9
    Mar….13 (1 was IFT-3 of Starship/Super Heavy)
    Apr….12
    May…13
    June…..5 (1 was IFT-4 of Starship/Super Heavy)

  • Terry: So it was tying a record not setting one. Just proves how routine this is getting, where it is becoming difficult to keep track. I will correct.

  • mkent

    ”First its Falcon 9 rocket took 23 Starlink satellites into orbit, lifting off from Cape Canaveral.”

    With this flight Starlink now accounts for half of all Falcon 9 launches in history (172 out of 344). Its percentage of recent flights is even higher than that (over 70% of flights this year). I doubt Starlink will ever fall below 50% again.

    The second-largest block of Falcon 9 flights goes to Dragon with 44. Take away those two blocks of flights and Falcon 9 would still have 128 flights, which is nothing to sneeze at — it’s as many as Atlas V and Delta IV Medium combined — but it’s not record-setting.

    It’s Starlink that makes Falcon 9 the monster it is.

  • mkent: And that Starlink monster is also paying the bills for Falcon 9, considering its revenues.

  • Dick Eagleson

    Robert,

    I strongly suspect that the Falcons that launch 2nd-party payloads cover, or even more than cover, the costs of the more numerous Starlink launches – except perhaps for part of the cost of the Starlink payload stacks themselves. Ever-growing Starlink customer revenue more than covers the rest of whatever remains of the Starlink satellite bill plus ever-growing payroll at all SpaceX locations and the ceaseless infrastructure building and Starship development at Starbase and elsewhere (the concrete never sets on Elon Musk’s empire).

    The best evidence that SpaceX is now completely self-sufficient financially is that there has been no news of any fresh SpaceX solicitation of additional investment capital in more than a year. From here on out, the speed of advance of the Juggernaut that is SpaceX will be limited only by the growth of total revenue and the intrusiveness and speed of relevant regulatory bureaucracies.

    The recent agreement between SpaceX and the FAA about what aspects of a vehicle test flight require anomaly investigations and – most importantly – which do not demonstrates that, even during the reign of a patently hostile national administration, SpaceX is able to leverage the influence of what friends it does have – and they are not inconsiderable – to keep gratuitous bureaucratic meddling to a minimum.

    That situation should radically improve again if, as seems increasingly likely, Trump returns to office next year. Musk is already rumored to be an influential – if thus far mostly sub rosa – member of Trump’s “kitchen Cabinet.” The ancient political principal that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” certainly applies anent Musk and Trump. The same lefty fifth columnists and Deep Staters trying to destroy Trump are also going after Musk hammer and tongs. It’s been seven years since their rupture over the Paris Accords and events since have only shown the political distance between them to have vastly diminished. When inveighing against the Biden regime’s full court press on green energy and electric vehicles, for example, Trump is always careful to make a rhetorical carve-out for Musk and Tesla. Much good for the nation awaits even an informal alliance between these two singular characters.

    mkent,

    The annual number of Starlink launches on Falcons will continue their upward trajectory for at least the remainder of the 2020s, soon to be joined by Starship-based deployments. But I think what will begin to rival them as the 2020s wear on will be Starship tanker launches to fill a growing fleet of LEO propellant depots that will support, first, a growing traffic between Earth and Moon and then, only a bit later, an equally growing traffic between Earth and Mars. More than a few such launches might properly be counted in both categories as I anticipate both lunar and Mars equivalents of Starlink networks being deployed and maintained in orbits around those bodies as well as around Earth.

  • Richard M

    These two launches also put SpaceX above its entire 2022 launch total (61), too.

    And here we are, and it’s not even Flag Day yet.

  • Richard M

    I strongly suspect that the Falcons that launch 2nd-party payloads cover, or even more than cover, the costs of the more numerous Starlink launches – except perhaps for part of the cost of the Starlink payload stacks themselves.

    If it really is true, as I have heard, that the internal cost to launch a flight-proven baseline Falcon 9 is now only $15-17 million, then I think you are probably right about this, Dick.

  • Dick Eagleson

    Richard M,

    I think $15-17 million is probably a bit more than it takes to launch an entirely new Falcon 9. To launch one that reuses a booster and payload fairing, I suspect the total cost to be in the low single-digit millions.

  • Jeff Wright

    Before Full-Thrust, they wanted to dump earlier models more of a pain to refurbish, if I’m not mistaken.

  • It’s weird having a bill that I want to pay. I know where the money I spend on Starlink is going. Where is the cable bill going?

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