SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Completes 50th Orbital Launch of 2022

SpaceX has successfully launched French satellite communications provider Eutelsat’s Hotbird 13G satellite, cut short in a busy November statement and completing the fiftieth launch of the 2022 Falcon 9.

The company’s backbone rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS) LC-40 with a 4.5-ton (about 9,900-pound) geostationary communications satellite at 1:22 a.m. EDT on November 3 — 116 minutes after the original . I planned to allow more time to “check out before the flight”. But the Falcon 9 performed flawlessly, hitting a record streak with its 160th consecutive successful launch.

The Falcon 9 Booster B1067 has flown for the seventh time since it was first launched in June 2021 and just 45 days into its sixth flight, it has completed ascent, separation, descent, return and landing. The booster has landed aboard the SpaceX drone ship Just Read The Instructions (JRTI) about nine minutes after takeoff and will be ready for its eighth launch in the near future — possibly as early as next month. In addition to reusing the well-known booster, the SpaceX webcast host noted that the payload width of the Falcon 9 — a carbon-fiber composite nosecone composed of two detachable halves — was flying halves for the fourth and sixth time.

Speaking in 2017, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk once likened each half of a gift from Falcon to a $3 million pallet that falls into the ocean after each launch. At about the same time, SpaceX decided to try to redeem this pad of money, starting a refund and reuse program. Five years later, Falcon fairing reuse – although less obvious and popular than booster reuse – is now very reliable. At the current rate of one firing every six days, recovering and reusing fairings will likely save tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars annually and limit the need for major manufacturing expansions that might otherwise be necessary.

Although SpaceX fishes in half off the ocean before each flight, the company’s cleaning and refurbishment operations have improved so much that even paying customers are beginning to accept proven offers on their flights. Eutelsat’s Hotbird 13G satellite is the first customer payload to use half of the Falcon Fairing for the sixth time, raising the bar for acceptance.

A SpaceX worker demonstrates the size of half of the standard Falcon fairing during early recovery testing in 2018. (Paulin Akalin)
The Hotbird 13G Falcon Gift flew for the fourth and sixth times. (SpaceX)

About half an hour after takeoff, the Falcon 9’s consumable upper stage detached from the Hotbird 13G. On October 15, the Falcon 9 rocket launched its twin, Hotbird 13F, into a supersynchronous transfer orbit of about 400 km (~245 mi) by 56,000 km (~34,800 mi). Launching a satellite into a transfer orbit with a higher peak than its destination makes it faster and easier to reach a circular orbit at this target altitude (35,800 km, in this case). Having to put in less effort to raise its orbit will leave the Hotbird 13F and 13G with more fuel than it would otherwise have, effectively extending theoretical life by conserving more propellant for orbital maintenance after it reaches geosynchronous orbit.

The Hotbird 13G was SpaceX’s 51st launch for 2022 and 59th in 365 days. If SpaceX maintains the average pace it set in the last 10 months during the last two months of 2022, it could end the year after launching more than 60 times. The mission was also the 2022 Falcon 9 launch of the 50th, cementing its position as the most-launched rocket in a calendar year. Record of the most successful launches (61) for the same missile family In one year, however, it was appointed by the Soviet Union and has remained in place for more than four decades.

SpaceX has at least five more Falcon 9 launches tentatively scheduled this month. Intelsat Galaxy satellites 31 and 32 are the upcoming satellites and could be launched from the same Hotbird 13G board as early as November 8, followed by Eutelsat 10B in mid-November, and Japan’s first moon lander ispace no later than November 22. The unmanned Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to launch a NASA payload to the International Space Station (ISS) on November 20. Finally, while it was paused and on hold three more launches were going smoothly, SpaceX could squeeze out Starlink 4-37 in late November.

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Completes 50th Orbital Launch of 2022

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