SpaceX recently doubled their own record of successful launches they’ve completed in a year.
The progress they have made since the devastating explosion at Cape Canaveral Pad 40 last year has been nothing short of extraordinary.
Elon Musk’s spaceflight company launched 16 times in 2017 and are neck and neck with the Russians in completed missions. SpaceX has also landed a Falcon 9 booster an unprecedented 19 times since first doing so in December 2015. They are still the only outfit in history to not only bring home an orbital-class rocket but relaunch one.
SpaceX has launched a previously-flown rocket 3 times. All this year. The company has also been valued at $21 billion––making it one of the most valuable privately-held companies in the world.
It’s obviously been a historic year for SpaceX, to say the least. The commercial launch provider leased the historic Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center from NASA for 20 years and began using it this earlier year––it’s been the site of many of 2017’s milestone missions.
The pad itself is rich with space exploration history and was rusting before Elon Musk took interest in it. 39A hosted the launch of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin atop a Saturn V rocket to take those first steps on the Moon. The pad was also used heavily during the space shuttle era to launch the Hubble Telescope and the missions to construct the International Space Station.
On December 29th, 2017, Pad 39A will host the launch of the most powerful rocket in the world: SpaceX’s triple-booster Falcon Heavy rocket. The launch vehicle has the capability of launching missions to Mars, Europa, and of course the Moon. If SpaceX can pull it off, they will be launching humans around lunar orbit as soon as 2019.
SpaceX has completed repairs on the destroyed Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral and will be moving its Falcon 9 launches back to that facility on December 4th. For that mission, CRS-13, SpaceX will launch its 13th resupply service mission to the space station for NASA.
But there’s a twist: The mission will be launched on SpaceX’s 4th previously-flow booster and will be the first time in NASA’s history they will be utilizing a reusable rocket. On top of that, it will be SpaceX’s second previously-flown Dragon cargo capsule hauling the supplies. NASA has already allowed a reused Dragon to be flown to the space station earlier this year and it was the first time since the shuttle era since a “flight-proven” vehicle has done so.
Before these incredible missions happen, SpaceX will be launching a top-secret mission codenamed ZUMA on December 15th from Kennedy Space Center. We’ll have live coverage on Star Letters so stay tuned!
Image Credit: SpaceX