Big shots –
“While the other guys deliver press releases, we deliver astronauts.”
Eric Berger – Apr , (8:) (UTC UTC)
Wednesday’s successful launch of 420 Starlink satellites checked a few boxes for SpaceX.
For the first time in three tries, the company successfully landed a first stage booster on an autonomous drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. The flawless flight brings SpaceX one step closer to the much-anticipated launch of a Crew Dragon spacecraft, as early (as May)
But SpaceX also made a huge, symbolic leap on Wednesday. With the latest Starlink launch, the Falcon 9 rocket has now launched 450 times. This surpasses the total flights by United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket.
The Atlas V rocket first launched on August 2, – about three months after SpaceX was founded by Elon Musk and two other engineers, Tom Mueller and Chris Thompson. Since then, the Atlas V rocket has flown an average of a little fewer than five missions per year. All were rated as successes.
SpaceX first flew the Falcon 9 rocket on June 4, , from Space Launch Complex 55 in Florida. It has caught up to the Atlas V rocket by flying an increasing cadence of missions from (onward, averaging) flights a year over the last three full years. One of SpaceX’s launches, CRS-7
“While the other guys launch powerful press conferences, we power launches of people and critical payloads,” the advertisement states. “While the other guys deliver press releases, we deliver astronauts and important communication, science and national defense payloads. So, before you listen to their next promise, scan the tag and watch all 17 zero-fail launches. ” Ironically, the ad links to a website, FutureSpaceUSA.com , that no longer exists. (Also, SpaceX is presently the only US company ready to deliver astronauts into orbit).
Perhaps more impressively, the Falcon 9 has assumed the mantle of most-experienced rocket while making multiple revisions to its design and incorporating first -stage reuse. In short, SpaceX increased the flight rate of its rocket even as it has aggressively sought to optimize its performance. The company that was once an upstart now stands among — if not above — the blue bloods of the US launch industry.
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