Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Hawthorne, CA, United States (4E) – SpaceX has broken the world record for most commercial rocket launches in a year, with 20 successful launches thus far in 2018. It still has one more launch remaining on its 2018 manifest.
SpaceX also broke its own record for the most orbital rocket launches by a single company in a year. The company set the old record (18 launches over a single calendar year) in 2017. United Launch Alliance held the title prior to that with 16 commercial rockets launched in 2009.
This has been SpaceX’s best year yet for rocket launches. The 20 successful SpaceX missions sent dozens of payloads into orbit. It also took two experimental Starlink internet satellites into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and even hurled a red-colored Tesla Model X with a dummy driver past the orbit of Mars.
In May, Musk was feeling good enough about SpaceX’s 2018 progress that he said the company might “launch more rockets than any other country.”
That didn’t pan-out since China successfully launched 35 of its Long March orbital rockets in 2018, and will still launch a few more rockets before the year ends.
The 20th SpaceX mission on Dec. 5 was a successful re-supply mission to the International Space Station.
The 21st and last SpaceX mission for 2018 will loft the U.S. Air Force’s GPS IIIA-01 satellite into LEO on Dec. 18. This sat will improve global positioning coverage for the U.S. military.
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