SpaceX launches a cargo Dragon to ISS

SpaceX today successfully launched a Dragon freighter to ISS, its Falcon 9 rocket lifting off from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

The cargo Dragon was flying for the fourth time. It will dock with ISS on March 23, 2024. The first stage completed its sixth flight, landing back at one of SpaceX’s landing pads at Cape Canaveral.

This was also the first Dragon launch from this particular SpaceX launchpad in four years. The company only recently reconfigured it for Dragon flights, both manned and unmanned, so that it has two options for launching NASA manned missions. NASA had demanded this before it would give SpaceX permission to launch Superheavy/Starship from that rocket’s new launchpad in Florida. The agency thought it was too close to SpaceX’s first manned launchpad, and wanted an option in case a Superheavy launch failure damaged the Dragon launchsite. With this success SpaceX is one step closer to flying operational Superheavy/Starship flights out of Cape Canaveral.

The leaders in the 2024 launch race:

28 SpaceX
12 China
4 Rocket Lab
3 Russia

American private enterprise now leads the rest of the world combined in successful launches 33 to 21, while SpaceX now leads the entire world, including American companies, 28 to 26.

SpaceX successfully launches cargo Dragon to ISS

Capitalism in space: SpaceX this morning successfully launched another cargo Dragon freighter to ISS, lifting off on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral.

This cargo capsule is on its fourth flight. The first stage completed its fifth flight, landing on a drone ship in the Atlantic. The capsule carries about 7, 000 pounds of supplies, including another set of new solar arrays for ISS, and will dock with ISS tomorrow.

The leaders in the 2023 launch race:

38 SpaceX
20 China
8 Russia
5 Rocket Lab

American private enterprise now leads China 43 to 20 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 43 to 36. SpaceX by itself leads the world 38 to 36, but when you add other American companies it still trails everyone else combined 38 to 42.

SpaceX successfully launches cargo Dragon to ISS

Capitalism in space: SpaceX today successfully launched a cargo Dragon to ISS.

The first stage booster successfully landed on its drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

This Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule were entirely new, making their first flights. This was the first new Falcon 9 to fly since November 2020, with sixteen launches during that period using reused boosters exclusively.

In fact, since November 2020 SpaceX has completed a total of 21 launches, all done in less than seven months. Moreover, the company has scheduled 34 (!) more launches through the rest of the year. If they achieve this ambitious schedule, they will complete 51 launches in ’21, more than doubling their previous annual record of 25 set last year. With all other American companies added in, there will be a good chance the United States launch total could exceed 70, breaking the country’s own annual launch record set in 1966 at the height of the first space race.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

17 SpaceX
15 China
8 Russia
2 Rocket Lab

The U.S. now leads China 23 to 15 in the national rankings.