SpaceX earlier this week took to Twitter to announce that the Falcon 9, SpaceX’s primary launch rocket has become the most-flown operational rocket in the United States. The rocket has undertaken 85 flights, a milestone achieved on the 10thanniversary of its first flight. The feat is coming a few hours after SpaceX’s Wednesday launch, sending up the eighth batch of 60 Starlink satellites for its increasingly-large constellation. It is also coming less than 7 days after a different Falcon 9 sent up the Crew Dragon capsule, with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley sent up in a company-first.
The Falcon 9 was introduced in 2010 to replace Falcon 1, which was SpaceX’sfirst vehicle that used a single engine to send up one ton into space. Falcon 1 was full expendable, undertaking five launches in its four years of operation, with only two beingsuccessful. While the Falcon 1 may have seen limited use, it was an important step toward SpaceX’s current rocket. According to Musk in a recent interview, it took the company four attempts to reach orbit. A made this revelation while responding to Virgin Orbit’s failed maiden mission that month.
The Falcon 9 has seemingly set the stage for SpaceX to move further, measuring 230 feet tall, 12 feet in diameter, and weighing 1.2 million pounds. The rocket is capable of transporting over 50,000 pounds to low Earth orbit. As indicated by the name, the rocket uses nine Merlin engines as opposed to the single Merlin engine used with the Falcon 1, giving it more than 1.7 million pounds of thrust at sea level.
One of Falcon 9’s most important improvementsis its reusability, enablingSpaceX to recuperate around $46.5 million of the estimated $62 million price tag associated with these flights. SpaceX’sfirst attempt to land a Falcon 9 booster was in 2013. However, the attempt only succeeded for the first time in 201 and by 2017 it was landing 15 cores per year. It has landed the Falcon 9 booster 46 times, and reflown it 31 times.
Falcon 9’s feat is particularly impressive. However, questions have been raised about the most-flown operational rocket in the United States? Most experts take Soyuz as the number one by a huge margin. The rocket’s name is a word that means “union” in Russian and was developed by the Soviet Union first flew in November 1966, taking off from the BaikonurCosmodrome in today’s Kazakhstan.
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