Yesterday (Oct 30, 2017) SpaceX launched their third mission just this month, followed shortly after by their third landing in the same timeframe. Their pace in 2017 has now tied them with ULA’s all-time record for most launches in a year, and very soon they will take that record for themselves.
The successful launch of the 7,700 pound Koreasat 5A communications satellite marked the sixteenth flight for SpaceX this year with their upgraded 230-foot tall Falcon 9 rocket, its 24th launch since becoming operational in late 2015.
More than a third of all SpaceX launches in total have occurred in 2017 alone, and October is the second month in 2017 where SpaceX launched three missions in a single calendar month.
ABOVE: SpaceX Koreasat 5A Launch from our remote cameras at 39A – Credit: Jeff Seibert / AmericaSpace
Liftoff occurred precisely at 3:34 p.m. EDT, followed shortly after by the return to Earth of the rocket’s first stage booster for landing on the deck of their drone ship, “Of Course I Still Love You”, situated about 390 miles (630 km) offshore in the Atlantic Ocean.
It was the 12th successful touchdown of a Falcon 9 first stage on their drone ships since April 2016.
While details are scarce, SpaceX is preparing to launch a classified government mission from 39A soon identified only as ZUMA, while also preparing to return neighboring launch complex 40 on Cape Canaveral AFS to operational service to launch their next Dragon resupply mission to the ISS for NASA (CRS-13), scheduled or no earlier than Dec.
The long awaited inaugural launch of their Falcon Heavy rocket is expected to finally occur by the end of the year as well, or at least “NO EARLER THAN”.
A couple satellite launches might occur before 2018 still too, but with SpaceX you just never know because they don’t publicize anticipated schedules very much, so stay tuned.