SpaceX caps massive year with 61st Falcon 9 launch

SpaceX Falcon 9 launch courtesy of SPACEX WEBCAST

SpaceX has completed its final Falcon 9 launch of 2022, which also marks the seventh for December. The launch placed a $186 million Israeli Earth-imaging satellite in orbit.

This marks a record-breaking year for SpaceX, pulling off 61 Falcon 9 launches in total and a total of 194 Falcon 9 launches since the rocket’s debut in 2010. This year’s successful launches continue a streak of 179 successful flights since SpaceX’s only in-flight failure in 2015. The 50th launch came in early November.

CEO Elon Musk congratulated his company on Twitter:

While SpaceX had 61 Falcon 9 launches this year, falling one short of doubling the number of launches from the previous year, the company is expected to have even more flights in 2023. This includes two NASA astronaut missions to the International Space Station, two commercial crew flights, two cargo flights to the station, and the first orbital launch of the next-gen Starship rocket.

The last mission of the year began at 2:38 a.m. EST when the Falcon 9’s first stage engines ignited, propelling the 229-foot-tall rocket off of launch pad 4-East at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

During the launch, the rocket’s first stage, which was on its 11th flight, powered the rocket through the lower atmosphere before separating and successfully landing near the launch pad. This was the eighth landing in California for SpaceX and the 160th successful recovery overall.

The single engine on the second stage then fired for seven minutes and 15 seconds, placing the EROS C-3 satellite into its planned orbit about 15 minutes after lift-off.