SpaceX ties annual launch record seven months into 2022

(Richard Angle)

Less than seven full months into 2022, SpaceX has tied its annual launch record.

Carrying the 22nd batch of upgraded Starlink V1.5 satellites, a Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from SpaceX’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS) LC-40 pad on Sunday morning. The Starlink 4-22 mission went off without a hitch, expanding SpaceX’s impressive streak of successful Falcon 9 launches to 137 and placing another 53 satellites in orbit.

Beyond the now-routine growth of the largest satellite constellation in history, Starlink 4-22 also tied a number of records related to Falcon 9’s extraordinary launch cadence.

First, the mission was SpaceX’s 31st successful launch of 2022, tying the company’s annual cadence record – 31 launches spread over all of 2021 – in just over half (54%) of the time. If SpaceX is able to sustain the same pace for another five months, it could end 2022 having completed around 57 launches in one year – a new record for a single rocket.

According to a report that the company intends to smash the launch turnaround record for one of its three Falcon launch pads a few days from now, SpaceX could even manage more than 60 launches this year. That would give Falcon 9 (a single rocket variant) an opportunity to beat a record for annual launches (61) of a family of related rockets that has stood for 41 years.

Looking closer, Starlink 4-22 also left Falcon 9 just a few days away from beating a different Soviet-held record: the number of launches completed by a single rocket variant in 30 days. That record is held by the Soviet Soyuz-U rocket, which managed eight launches in less than 28 days in 1980. Starlink 4-22 was Falcon 9’s eighth launch in 30 days, during which SpaceX successfully launched a German radar satellite, a single spare Globalstar satellite, an unknown number of mystery rideshare payloads, the SES-22 geostationary communications satellite, a Cargo Dragon spacecraft, and 205 Starlink satellites.

SpaceX ties annual launch record seven months into 2022
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