SpaceX Progresses Toward 100 Launch Goal: A Launch Roundup

SpaceX is making significant progress towards its goal of launching 100 times in 2023. The company has planned three Starlink missions for this week, with two launches taking place at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and one at the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. Additionally, China is also expected to launch an unknown payload using the Chang Zheng 2D rocket.

These launches will bring the total number of orbital launches in 2023 to 199-204, surpassing the record of 174 orbital launches set in 2022. Despite several weeks remaining in the year, SpaceX is confident in achieving its ambitious target.

The first mission, Falcon Heavy, will launch the USSF-52 mission into an undisclosed orbit. This will be followed by the launch of the ZhuQue-2 rocket by Landspace from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in China. The payload for this mission has not been disclosed.

On Wednesday, SpaceX will launch its 92nd mission of the year, Starlink Group 6-33. A Falcon 9 rocket will carry 23 Starlink v2 Mini satellites into a low-Earth orbit. This will be SpaceX’s 125th operational Starlink mission. The company has already deployed a total of 5,536 Starlink satellites, with the majority in their operational orbits.

The weather forecast for the launch is favorable, with a 95% chance of launch. The primary concern is liftoff winds, but upper-level wind shear is expected to be low-to-moderate. If the launch is delayed, a backup window will open 24 hours later.

The booster for this mission, B1077-9, has been used in eight previous missions and has a quick average turnaround time of 53.44 days. After liftoff, the booster will perform an entry burn to slow down its descent before landing on the drone ship “Just Read the Instructions.” If successful, this will be SpaceX’s 252nd total and 178th consecutive landing.

The second Starlink mission of the week, Starlink Group 7-8, is scheduled for Friday. It will launch 22 Starlink v2 Mini satellites into an initial orbit, which will then rise into Starlink shell seven. The booster for this mission is currently unknown and will attempt to land on SpaceX’s drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You.”

Landspace is also planning to launch its ZhuQue-2 rocket on Friday from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. This mission aims to further expand Landspace’s lead as the first successful methane rocket to reach space and place a payload in orbit.

China is also set to launch an unknown payload using the Chang Zheng 2D rocket on Sunday. This will be the 13th mission of the year for this vehicle.

Finally, Falcon Heavy will launch on Sunday, placing the X-37B spacecraft into an undisclosed orbit. The payload includes NASA’s Seeds-2 mission, which will investigate the long-term effects of radiation on plant seeds. The two side cores of the Falcon Heavy will perform return-to-launch-site landings, while the center core will be expended.

To conclude the week, SpaceX will launch another batch of 23 Starlink v2 Mini satellites into low-Earth orbit on Sunday. The booster for this mission is currently unknown.

Overall, SpaceX is making great strides in its mission to revolutionize space travel and provide global internet coverage through its Starlink satellite constellation. With numerous launches planned and a focus on safety and reliability, the company is well on its way to achieving its goal of 100 launches in 2023.