Elon Musk and his space company SpaceX are still busy shooting Starlink satellites into orbit. Another milestone has now been reached.
When a Falcon 9 rocket took off into the clear blue sky over Florida on Wednesday afternoon, Elon Musk may have proudly patted himself on the shoulder. The rocket that set off with 60 Starlink satellites was the hundredth of its kind successfully launched into orbit in a row – a milestone in American space travel.
It was the 16th launch in 2021. This means that on average a Falcon 9 takes off every nine days. Seen over the last 33 days, it was already the sixth successful start. That makes a start every five days.
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The last Falcon 9 rocket that Elon Musk lost with SpaceX crashed in June 2015. During a mission with the space freighter Dragon to the ISS, the complete second stage of the rocket exploded due to a defect. After a half-year break, SpaceX dared to try again at the end of 2015, which ended successfully. 99 more successful launches should follow from this point in time without serious incidents; it was the beginning of a series of successes that continues to this day.
For five years, the series almost broke: In September 2016, a Falcon 9 rocket exploded in Cape Canaveral. However, something went wrong here when the tank was filled and the rocket was still on the ground when the serious accident occurred. For this reason, this incident is not included in the statistics.
Overall, the Falcon 9 is currently at 119 launches, of which no less than 118 were largely successfully completed. This means that Musk’s flagship rocket is on the hunt for a record for the Long March rocket type. The Chinese counterpart was able to successfully make 360 of 371 starts and is thus still a good bit ahead of the Falcon 9. However, the first Long March broke out in 1970 and is therefore a mere 40 years ahead of the Falcon 9, which was first ignited in 2010.
In 2020, a total of 34 Long March rockets were launched – SpaceX already had a good half of the launches in May. So it goes step by step towards the world record.