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After doubling launch record in 2022, can SpaceX take another step up in 2023?

The company may aim for as many as 100 launches in 2023.



Enlarge / One of SpaceX’s 61 launches in the year 2022 was the CRS-25 supply mission for NASA to the International Space Station. (credit: Trevor Mahlmann)

On the penultimate day of 2022, SpaceX completed its final launch of the year, boosting an Israeli optical satellite into low Earth orbit. This was the company’s seventh launch in December and capped a year in which the Falcon family of rockets launched 61 times, all successful.

All but one of these missions flew on the Falcon 9 rocket, and more than 90 percent of these flights were on a previously used booster. The other launch took place on a Falcon Heavy. With these 61 flights, SpaceX tied a record set by the Soviet R-7 rocket, which in 1980 flew a combined 61 missions across its Soyuz, Molniya, and Vostok variants.

The Soviets accomplished this amid the Cold War, of course, with a large budget devoted to space surveillance and a massive government space program with tens of thousands of workers. SpaceX performed the same feat as a private company, flying both its Starlink satellites and a mix of missions for satellite companies and governmental space agencies. SpaceX also landed every first stage that attempted to return on a drone ship or landing site in 2022, for a total of 60 rockets, including two side-mounted boosters from the Falcon Heavy mission on November 1.

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