from the get-out-of-the-way dept.
Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1
Prior to this year, the most successful launches SpaceX had performed in any given year was eight. But in 2017 the company has been able to put together a more efficient production flow, a maturing Falcon 9 rocket, and an experienced workforce to put its launch capabilities into overdrive. On Monday, SpaceX will go for its 16th launch of the year, doubling its previous record.
This year has seen a number of firsts for the company—first reflight of a Falcon 9 booster, first reuse of a Dragon cargo spacecraft, first national security payload, and a remarkable dozen landings. But probably the biggest achievement has been finally delivering on the promise of a high flight rate.
"They have had a busy and perfect year in 2017, with launches, recovers, and reuses all executed well," said Greg Autry, an assistant professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California. Moreover, the successes this year should set the stage for even greater achievements in years to come.
Autry said insurers no longer are charging a premium on SpaceX's reuse launches, which the company has performed three of in 2017. This suggests reuse is becoming more normal and accepted within the industry. "This should make the job of the SpaceX sales folks even easier," Autry said. "Barring any delays due to launch failures, I think we will see them grab an even bigger slice of the market and could actually approach a monopoly position in commercial launch."
It was about a year ago that Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg first began saying his company would beat SpaceX to Mars. "I'm convinced that the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding on a Boeing rocket," he said during a Boeing-sponsored tech summit in Chicago in October 2016.
On Thursday, Muilenburg repeated that claim on CNBC. Moreover, he added this tidbit about the Space Launch System rocket—for which Boeing is the prime contractor of the core stage—"We're going to take a first test flight in 2019 and we're going to do a slingshot mission around the Moon."
Unlike last year, Muilenburg drew a response from SpaceX this time. The company's founder, Elon Musk, offered a pithy response on Twitter: "Do it."
The truth is that Boeing's rocket isn't going anywhere particularly fast. Although Muilenburg says it will launch in 2019, NASA has all but admitted that will not happen. The rocket's maiden launch has already slipped from late 2017 into "no earlier than" December 2019. However, NASA officials have said a 2019 launch is a "best case" scenario, and a slip to June 2020 is more likely.
Also, the next SpaceX flight is an ISS resupply mission and is scheduled for this coming Tuesday (December 12, 2017) at 1646 GMT (11:46 a.m. EST) from SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The plan is for the booster to return to landing at Landing Zone-1, also at Cape Canaveral.
Previously: Maiden Flight of the Space Launch System Delayed to 2019
Elon Musk Publishes Mars Colonization Plan
SpaceX Appears to Have Pulled the Plug on its Red Dragon Plans
SpaceX Putting Red Dragon on the Back Burner
SpaceX: Making Human Life Multiplanetary
Related: VP of Engineering at United Launch Alliance Resigns over Comments About the Space Launch Industry
ULA Exec: SpaceX could be Grounded for 9-12 Months
Commercial Space Companies Want More Money From NASA
Bigelow and ULA to Put Inflatable Module in Orbit Around the Moon by 2022
SpaceX Unlocks "Steamroller" Achievement as Company Eyes 19 Launches in 2017
Trump Space Adviser: Mars "Too Ambitious" and SLS is a Strategic National Asset
SpaceX's Reusable Rockets Could End EU's Arianespace, and Other News