Anything Elon Musk has gotten behind in the last few years had been an absolute success at the highest of levels. While SpaceX has been one of the biggest jewels in his crown of technology, completing a triple header this weekend successfully is a new shiny gem for sure! A feat like this has never been completed in the history of mankind.
This trio represents the fastest three-flight cadence of the orbit-class rockets in the history of space. SpaceX rockets number 158, 159, and 160 were all put into orbit in 36 hours and 18 minutes.
Friday a 53 Starlink internet satellite rocket hit orbit from Kennedy Space Center. Starting the engines at 1209 EDT, this Falcon 9 made its 13th flight into orbit. Used as a first-stage rocket, it was launched from pad 39A, and with the sizeable number of satellites, it now has put 2,706 satellited into orbit.
Saturday a German radar satellite launched from California. This time with a bit earlier launch kicking off at 1017, a different Falcon 9 pushed into space carrying a German SARah1 satellite for its payload. This satellite was launched into polar orbit and originated its flight from Vandenberg Space Force in California. A 22-hour turnaround for the company is monumental, and something to be incredibly proud of.
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Sunday a Globalstar communications satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral. This return to Florida found SpaceX launching at 0027 with yet another Falcon 9 rocket. This late-night launch originated from pad 40 and lit up the FL sky as it broke into orbit. With the safe detachment of the stage one rocket a few minutes later, it landed on a barge in the ocean. With a little under two hours required for stage two to get the satellite into position, this was a monumental flight.
Launching three rockets in under two days is an incredible achievement for any nation to achieve, but the fact that this is a private company working in conjuncture with the government as well as other nations, and it becomes legendary. Given the history of their last launch of the weekend, it only gets better.
Globalstar has been around for years. Specializing in global satellite phones and data networks, this satellite seems to be destined for ensuring the longevity of the program. Given that the satellite launched into orbit was originally built 10 years ago, they have been lasting for some time up there The need to add in a replacement or alternate for the FM15 satellite is a tribute to its pure success and durability.
SpaceX is certainly a newcomer to the space industry compared to other organizations, but they have built themselves quite a reputation in quick order. With Musk at the helm, their initial mission to do something many young men dreamed about (as shown in Young Sheldon) is miraculous. For years the cost of losing the stage one rockets prevented many space exploration missions. Nations and private companies couldn’t afford to leave that kind of money on the table.
Devising a way to not only bring that rocket back to earth, but to do so in a controlled way so it can be reused is something that many have thought of, but none could quite figure out. By getting these rockets back, the cost to go back into space not only goes down exponentially but our knowledge base is greatly increased.
Unlike before, we now have returned rockets to study. To see what weak points may exist, or what might be over-engineered in a way that it is not worth the added weight, and we can now shave some pounds, and not require as much fuel to achieve the same results. All in all, SpaceX is the private company that can and will save this country from massive space problems, and that will ensure the US stays at the top of space exploration.