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SpaceX in launch of 52 Starlink satellites reuses a 1st stage for the 11th time

Capitalism in space: SpaceX early this morning successfully launched another 52 Starlink satellites into orbit, reusing a Falcon 9 first stage for a record-setting 11th time.

The booster landed successfully on a drone ship in the Pacific, and can now be used again. This success adds weight to the company’s claim a few years ago that the final iteration of the Falcon 9 first stages have the potential for as many as 100 launches. SpaceX has now proven that the stage can fly more than ten times, and still be reused.

This launch also extended SpaceX’s record for the most launches ever by a private company in a single year.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

48 China
29 SpaceX
22 Russia
6 Europe (Arianespace)
5 Rocket Lab

China now leads the U.S. 48 to 46 in the national rankings. However, the race to see which country will end up with the most launches is getting tighter. SpaceX has another two launches scheduled in the next three days, with a Virgin Orbit launch following the next day.

This launch was the 125th in 2021, making it the sixth most active year in rocketry since Sputnik. Should those four launches above all succeed, it will be the second most active year, with an outside chance of beating the record of 132 launches from 1975.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors. The ebook can be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner. Note that the price for the ebook, $3.99, goes up to $5.99 on September 1, 2022.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • sippin_bourbon

    Mr Z, there is another minor milestone here that should be noted.
    It requires a little math.

    The Space Shuttle (STS) system had 135 Launches, with 1 launch failure, and overall two vehicles lost, with the tragic loss of both crews.
    So 134 successful launches. 133 successful missions.

    The Falcon9 rockets, starting with the 1.0, through the final variants have 132 launches, with one launch failure. (not counting the AMOS-6, lost in pre-flight static fire test), That is 131 successful launches.
    There have been 3 Falcon Heavy Launches, zero failures.
    So the total for the Falcon9 system is 134 successful launches.

    So in terms of launch success, the two systems are tied. They will surpass this year, if either of the two planned launches take place.

    Side note, they have 98 successful landing with today’s mission, out of 109 attempts. If they get both launches before year end, they may hit 100 landings this year.

    The system has a long way to go before it even gets close to the number of people delivered into space, compared to the STS. It may never, at a pace of 3 at a time. They are only up to 18. The Titan had 20 (Project Gemini, counting repeated astronauts) and Saturn Rocket has 45 (Apollo, also counting repeats).

    If Starship becomes active as a manned launch vehicle as intended, it may be moot.

  • sippin_bourbon

    Left out an important factor. STS was flying for 30 years. Falcon 9 system only 11.

  • Alton

    Keep on Sippen….

    Good Work Sir!

  • geoffc

    And think about engine run time as well.

    SpaceX runs 9 engines for about 2.5 minutes. Then the upper stage for about 8.
    About 30 min of engine run time a mission.

    Shuttle ran two SRBs for 2.5 minutes or so and 3 engines for 8 or so minutes.
    About 29 min.

    (I know those numbers are not quite correct).

    But this tells us that Merlin has reached the same level of flight time, many many of them reused many times, in 11 years to Shuttles’ 30. Well done indeed.

    Raptor is gonna smash that record very fast.

  • Jeff Wright

    I thought of 1975 as a “blah” year.
    Skylab flights?

  • Jay

    You brought up something that has been a mystery to me for years. How many Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSME) were built? When talk about Ares-V, now SLS designs were going to re-use the SSME, I wondered how many existed. Some sources have quoted 30 and some websites have quoted as many as 70. So far the number I have seen is 51, including the six lost on Challenger and Columbia.
    I am including the Block I, II, and IIA engines in my count. The serial numbers were never contiguous, but I figured that had something to do with the different block numbers or failures due to testing.

    Thanks to you and sippin_bourbon for those numbers. A stat I have heard being kicked around is the turn around time on those engines for the Falcon-9 is 51 days and the fastest turnaround time for the SSME was 54 days. I remember there was talk of getting the Merlin’s turn around time to two weeks!

  • Richard M

    Isn’t the top year 1967, with 139 launches?

  • Riichard M

    I thought of 1975 as a “blah” year.
    Skylab flights?

    Most of the launches in 1975 were Soviet (89). Mainly, they were intel birds.

    Their milsats were short-lived back then, so they had to keep a high tempo of replacement launches going.

  • Richard M: I suspect the difference is that I only count successful launches, and the launch report probably counts all launches.

  • Alton

    A quick and dirty look see yeilds from collectSpace the following post. ????

    posted 09-06-2006 03:58 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman Edit/Delete Message Reply w/Quote
    Pratt & Whitney have a few hand-outs at the KSC Press site, one of which was prepared specifically for STS-115. In the booklet appears the following:
    Since the first Space Shuttle launch on April 12, 1981, 42 different SSMEs have successfully demonstrated the performance, safety, and reliability of the world’s only reusable liquid-fuel rocket engine.
    There is also a chart that shows which mission(s) the 42 engines have flown (for a total of 348 “engine flights”).

  • Alton

    And from Wiki.. if you trust them as much as Google? 46 Engines built.

    After each flight the engines would be removed from the orbiter and transferred to the Space Shuttle Main Engine Processing Facility (SSMEPF), where they would be inspected and refurbished in preparation for reuse on a subsequent flight.[29] A total of 46 reusable RS-25 engines, each costing around US$40 million, were flown during the Space Shuttle program, with each new or overhauled engine entering the flight inventory requiring flight qualification on one of the test stands at Stennis Space Center prior to flight.[27][30][31]

  • Jeff Wright

    Kraft didn’t seem to like all the tearing down, IIRC.
    SuperHeavy engine inspection isn’t going to be easy either.

  • Jay

    I stay away from Wikipedia, and I still have the link to the website from decades ago for the serial numbers here. Surprised the link still exists!.
    Looks like our numbers are close. In my count I also accounted for the test engines that are at Stennis: #2060 and 2061. The three engines built after Columbia: #2057 – #2059. Plus there were #2107 and #2109 have flown, they were converted/upgraded engines.

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