SpaceX Launches Record 60th Flight Of The Year
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches the HAKUTO-R Mission 1 from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on December 11, 2022 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Paul Hennessy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

SpaceX launched 54 Starlink satellites into orbit early Wednesday in a record 60th launch for 2022.

The Falcon 9 rocket carried the upgraded Gen2 versions of the satellites during a 4:34 a.m. Eastern Time launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

“Under our new license, we are now able to deploy satellites to new orbits that will add even more capacity to the network,” Jesse Anderson, SpaceX production and engineering manager, said during the live stream of the launch. “Ultimately, this enables us to add more customers and provide faster service, particularly in areas that are currently oversubscribed.”

Falcon 9’s first stage rocket successfully landed on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. The mission was the 60th of 2022, a new record for SpaceX. The company notes 197 total launches.

The mission marked the eleventh launch and landing for this Falcon 9 first-stage booster, which previously launched GPS III Space Vehicle 04, GPS III Space Vehicle 05, Inspiration4, Ax-1, Nilesat 301, and now six Starlink missions, according to the mission description.

The launch marked the first of Starlink’s upgraded network, called the Gen2. The new devices can now deploy satellites to new orbits that will add even more capacity to the Starlink network.

“Ultimately, this enables us to add more customers and provide faster service – particularly in areas that are currently over-subscribed,” the description noted.

On December 1, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved SpaceX to deploy up to 7,500 Gen2 satellites. SpaceX has also applied to eventually add a total of almost 30,000 satellites into orbit.

Starlink seeks to provide high-speed, low-latency broadband internet in remote and rural locations worldwide. The company made global headlines earlier this year when Musk provided Starlink services to Ukraine after it was invaded by Russia in February. The assistance has offered critical communications help to Ukrainians following attacks on the nation’s power grid.

Starlink also provided internet satellite kits in Florida following Hurricane Ian.

“They’ve donated the cost associated with all of the coverage, so we want to thank SpaceX and thank Elon Musk for that. A large device, you can put it different areas in the community that are having problems and they can get a 13-mile radius and they can support over 1,000 users at a given time,” Gov. DeSantis (R-FL) said in October.

In addition to Starlink launches, SpaceX has been involved in a variety of other international projects, including the launch of Japan’s first privately-led mission to the moon.

The ispace HAKUTO-R Mission 1 launched earlier this month from Florida. The Mission 1 lander is making its four-month journey ahead of Japan’s first unmanned lunar landing. Only the U.S., the former Soviet Union, and China have successfully conducted a soft landing on the moon’s surface.

The mission is expected to land on the moon’s surface near the end of April 2023.

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