Elon Musk’s SpaceX has smashed annual rocket launch records in 2023, delivering over 1,000 tons of cargo to orbit aboard its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy boosters. The achievement highlights SpaceX’s total dominance in the global launch industry.
“This is significantly more than any country has launched with their entire rocket fleet in a year,” Musk post on X/Twitter today, “Second is peak Soviet Union at ~500 tons.”
The Soviet record of launches in a calendar year occurred in 1984. In comparison, the rest of the world combined has only launched around 250 tons to orbit so far in 2023, mostly by China.
SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket has launched at unprecedented cadences out of pads in Florida and California. SpaceX has launched 81 rockets in 2023, 76 Falcon 9s, four Falcon Heavies, and one Starship.
Falcon 9 is the world’s only reusable orbital-class booster. SpaceX routinely lands and reflies the first stage after launch, reducing costs, rocket can lift 60 tons to low Earth orbit.
Meanwhile, the triple-core Falcon Heavy has contributed powerful performance to SpaceX’s record launch numbers for 2023. Falcon Heavy can deliver 140,000 pounds to orbit in a single mission, equivalent to a 737 jetliner loaded with cargo.
These numbers are going to get even crazier once Starship starts sending up cargo, (Starship rocket could launch on its another orbital test flight within days). Fully reusable stainless steel rocket is designed to carry over 100 tons to Earth orbit.
Starship aims to be the workhorse for Musk’s ambitious vision of colonizing Mars and establishing a permanent human presence on the Moon. At SpaceX’s South Texas facility, teams have been assembling the first orbital prototype Starship using a full complement of 33 Raptor engines – 6 for the spaceship upper stage and 27 for its Super Heavy booster.
SpaceX’s record-shattering launch cadence has enabled valuable space missions for NASA, the U.S. military, commercial satellite operators and other customers, has cornered over 70% of the global commercial launch market.
With its ever-growing fleet of flight proven boosters and vessel ships, SpaceX is poised to continue ramping up launches and delivering unparalleled access to space. Musk aims to someday launch rockets like airplanes – with daily or weekly launch opportunities for customers.