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SpaceX successfully launches 40 OneWeb satellites

SpaceX today successfully launched another 40 OneWeb satellites, using its Falcon 9 rocket lifting off from Cape Canaveral.

This was SpaceX’s third launch for OneWeb, helping to replace the Russians who broke its contract with OneWeb after its invasion of the Ukraine. The first stage completed its thirteenth flight, landing safely on a landing pad at Cape Canaveral. As amazing as this record is, it is not a record for the most reflights, which presently stands at fifteen. The fairings completed their sixth flight.

As of posting not all of OneWeb’s satellites have been deployed.

The 2023 launch race:

16 SpaceX
7 China
3 Russia
1 Rocket Lab
1 Japan
1 India

American private enterprise now leads China 17 to 7 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 17 to 12. SpaceX alone leads the entire world combined, including American companies, 16 to 13.

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


  • Dick Eagleson

    40, not 41.

  • Dick Eagleson: Thank you. Fixed. I misheard the announcer during the broadcast.

  • sippin_bourbon

    If I am counting correctly, this is 100 missions straight with a successful landing.
    This skips the missions where no attempt is made, and does not count Falcon Heavy twice.

  • geoffc

    SpaceX Falcon 9 has landed more times, than the most successful other booster has launched. That is 101 landings is better than 100 launches of Atlas II. Pretty cool.

  • john hare

    And the sad thing is that NASA and the aerospace companies should have been able to start this in the 70s and 80s. Hitting cadence in the 90s. All the successful landings of the Falcon9 have been in less than seven and a half years.

  • sippin_bourbon

    john hare

    Well there was the Delta Clipper project…

  • Star Bird

    When can we send all Liberal Democrats to the Moon?

  • pzatchok

    Honestly NASA just didn’t have the computing power it needed until about 30 years ago.

    And their mindset at the time was every launch was to put every ounce up and have nothing left over.
    Lets just forget the shuttle for the future.

  • Edward

    John hare,
    I don’t think that commercial companies were yet ready to launch commercial rockets in the 1970s, but in the early 1980s steely-eyed missile man Robert Truax had proposed a commercial launch company. Unfortunately, the U.S. Congress declared that the Space Shuttle would be the only U.S. launch vehicle for satellites. This decree almost killed the U.S. launch industry, but after Challenger, Congress rescinded its decree, and three U.S. rockets survived, and in the late 1980s Orbital Sciences (now part of Northrup Grumman) was founded to launch small satellites from an airplane air-drop.

    Essentially, the Space Shuttle set back the U.S. launch industry by perhaps a third of a century.

    I cannot be sure that reusable boosters would have been investigated in the 1980s, but by the 1990s the industry understood that reusability was necessary. It was in this decade that I first heard the analogy with airlines: imagine that if we threw away an airliner after each flight then it would have a huge impact on the price of a ticket. This is also the decade that the X-Prize was created, in order to encourage reusability. The Shuttle may have set back the commercial launch industry by only two decades, but that is the range: two to three decades.

    Even at the turn of the millennium, the influence of government launches made it so difficult for potential launch companies to find investors willing to compete against the government-controlled U.S. launch services that, for that first decade, only hundred-million-aires and billionaires were successful in making launchers, orbital or suborbital, through self-investment. Even the X-Prize winner had been funded by a billionaire. The successful commercial orbital launchers happened only because NASA helped encourage commercial launches, otherwise even SpaceX would have gone out of business, as happened to Kistler when it was still unable to find outside investors despite NASA’s encouragement. The success of the Commercial Resupply Services project finally encouraged investors to support additional launch companies. These investments are working out for some investors but not for all investors.

    The small satellite industry is another story. By 1985 there was an annual conference discussing a return to smallsats, but the cost of launch remained too high for this industry to take off. In reality, two university professors realized that student satellites were difficult to launch because the designs were too unique for ease in mounting for piggyback launches. Around 1999, they came up with the standardized cubesat concept and the standard mount-and-release mechanism. This standardization made things so easy and inexpensive that the smallsat industry was able to blossom. Not just cubesats but all manner of small satellites. New companies were founded to make smallsat components, and now we have a new commercial launch industry to launch small satellites.

    The Space Shuttle may not have set back this industry.

  • Edward wrote, “I don’t think that commercial companies were yet ready to launch commercial rockets in the 1970s…”

    Actually, commercial launch companies were ready to do this in the 1960s, and actually did so. All the early Telstar satellites in the 1960s were built by AT&T from private capital, and were put in orbit by NASA with the launch entirely paid for by AT&T. If AT&T had not been blocked by President Kennedy and Congress from building its planned Telstar constellation to provide worldwide phone service, in the 1960s, an American private rocket launch industry would have developed then, more than a half century sooner.

  • Edward

    You wrote: “If AT&T had not been blocked by President Kennedy and Congress from building its planned Telstar constellation to provide worldwide phone service, in the 1960s, an American private rocket launch industry would have developed then, more than a half century sooner.

    This news has changed my perspective of the early space age. It wasn’t just the Apollo project that was run on the communist’s top-down model. It wasn’t just the irony of using the Soviet model to beat the Soviets, it was the U.S. government’s policy to use the Soviet model for the entire space industry. You are suggesting that government was not dominant in space because space required more resources than was available to America’s companies, government was intentionally dominant via its policies.

    This Soviet model was used from the beginning for the whole U.S. space industry. So much for free market capitalism in the U.S. in the second half of the 20th century. It wasn’t just the government’s policy for the space shuttle that had set back the U.S. launch industry, it was the government’s policy from the beginning of the space age. The government was following the marxist Outer Space Treaty even before it was a treaty. No wonder the U.S. was so willing to sign onto this treaty. The lack of progress in space would explain why it has been so long since it was popular to call it the the space age.

    With Challenger, the government finally realized that government was not the solution to space access, but the resulting change in space policy was not enough to stimulate the space industry. The U.S. government failed make up for a quarter century of suppressing the free market and discouraging investors. The government was both a monopoly and a monopsony in the space industry. A marxist way of doing business.

    The attempts in the 1990s to create single stage to orbit should have shown to government that not only was it not the solution, it was the problem. The space industry could not find sufficient investment to do it, because it would be competing with the government monopoly, so those two companies turned to NASA for help. That didn’t help, because government was not as encouraging as it had thought. Dr. Binder’s attempt to privately fund the Lunar Prospector was another indicator that investors were unwilling to compete with the government, and NASA took over the project. These showed that public-private partnerships (government-industry partnerships) do not work in the way government still thinks that it should. The partnerships too often result in failure because the government is not enthusiastic enough to see it through to the end or because government takes over the project. Either way, the efficiency and innovation of private industry is lost.

    The X-Prize didn’t just show the world that industry was finally ready to do what had taken the resources of each of the world’s three biggest governments to do, it showed that free market capitalism can do it with far more efficiency than those governments could do it.

    The government’s reaction to the Columbia disaster showed the government that it had stifled the U.S. space industry, and government would have to change its model yet again. NASA and the government finally began to realize that government was not the solution but the problem. Not only did government have to encourage a space industry that was the supplier, but the industry and not government must also be the dominant customer.

    Blue Origin’s New Shepard project and SpaceX’s falcon project showed that not only did free market capitalism encouraged efficiency, it encouraged more than incremental evolutionary innovations but also industry-disruptive revolutionary innovations.

    Starship may show that free market capitalism is not only efficient and innovative but that it can do things that governments are not willing to do, even the resources of the three largest governments. Governments just dream about and promise will happen in future decades but are unwilling to fund them. The use of several variants of Starship is similar to using one chassis for multiple automobiles or the space industry’s use of one basic core design to place many different types of payloads on satellites in space. It is a mere fifteen years after NASA moved in the direction of free market capitalism, and now NASA expects one Starship variant to help us return man to the Moon in a more permanent way, and SpaceX expects three variants to colonize Mars. Even NASA does not have expectations of martian colonies, and it barely has plans for getting man to Mars.

    No wonder Walt Disney and Werner von Braun had such grand dreams in the 1950s. They had expected the innovation and efficiency of free market capitalism to lead the way in space. We had just fought WWII to defend the world from a tyrannical socialist government, so this expectation seemed justified. Instead, from the beginning, the crushing weight of a marxist-like top-down government policy chloroformed free market capitalism in space.

    Maybe with the free market capitalist success in space, these times will once again be called the space age.

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