SpaceX launch completes record-breaking year for rocket firm

The SpaceX logo is displayed on a building on 26 May, 2020, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida  (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
The SpaceX logo is displayed on a building on 26 May, 2020, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

SpaceX has completed its 61st rocket launch of 2022, nearly doubling its previous annual launch record.

Lifting off from Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California early on Friday morning, a Falcon 9 rocket flying its 11th mission successfully delivered a commercial Israeli imaging satellite into orbit.

Built by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the 400kg EROS C3 satellite will aim to take photos of the Earth with a resolution of 30cm.

The record-breaking launch exceeded a goal of 60 successful launches set by founder and chief executive Elon Musk set in March, and was 30 more than the previous launch record set in 2021.

It also equalled a 42-year-old record set by the Soviet Union, when the R-7 rocket completed 61 of 64 attempted launches. All but one of SpaceX’s launches were undertaken by the Falcon 9 rocket, with a Super Heavy rocket making the only other one.

Next year may see this record broken once again, as SpaceX aims to increase the launch rate of its Starlink missions, which aim to deliver high-speed internet across the globe through its network of satellites.

Starlink missions accounted for 34 of the 61 launches in 2022.

The first SpaceX launch set for 2023 is 2 January, when a Falcon 9 rocket will launch from the Space Launch Complex 40 in Cape Canaveral, Florida – weather permitting.

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Mr Musk has set a target of 100 launches next year, with customers including the UK’s OneWeb and US space agency Nasa.