Factory release of the 200th upper stage of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle

We can’t stop SpaceX!

Inaugurated on June 4, 2010, the Falcon 9 of SpaceX has now been flying for just over twelve years.

The day before yesterday, November 3, it carried out its 183rd orbital flight (not counting the voluntary in-flight destruction mission of January 2020), embarking for the occasion a new geostationary telecommunications satellite from the French operator Eutelsat, Hotbird 13G (made by Airbus Defense and Space), just three weeks after its delivery to Florida, and the launch of its twin, Hotbird 13F.

It was the 146th successful orbital launch worldwide in 2022 (out of 151 attempts), the 63rd from the United States, and the… 51st by SpaceX.

The Falcon Heavy makes the show

Two days before since Kennedy Space Centerin Florida, SpaceX had carried out the fourth launch of its heavy launcher Falcon Heavywhich entered service in February 2018, but had not been used since June 2019.

Conducted once again on behalf of theU.S. Space Forcethe mission especially caught the attention for the quasi-simultaneous recovery of the two lateral stages of the launcher, 8 minutes after takeoff, on the neighboring base of Cape Canaveral. Star Wars is not very far away…

Since December 2015, SpaceX has successfully recovered 151 stages from its launchers…

Like hotcakes

After Hotbird 13G was stationed (i.e. the 188th flight of Falcon 9/Falcon Heavy, including the “suicide” flight of January 2020), SpaceX shared on Twitter photos of Falcon’s 200th upper stage (not recovered) and associated 200th engine, the Merlin Vacuum (MVac), both produced in the plant ofHawthornenear Los Angeles.

“Congratulations to the Falcon team who completed the 200th second stage and Merlin Vacuum engine last week! “, can we read as a caption.

The next day is the photo of an engine Raptor 2 assembled which in turn was released, with this comment: “If Falcon’s 200 second stages and Merlin Vacuum engines weren’t enough for you, the Raptor team recently completed the 200th Raptor 2 engine! »

Developed to equip the Interplanetary Superlauncher Starship (whose first orbital flight is now announced for “early December”), the Raptor 2 is a liquid methane and oxygen engine, which SpaceX is now able to produce in… one day.

This was confided on October 31 Mark KirasichDeputy Associate Director of the Nasaduring a meeting of the subcommittee of the Advisory Board of the American agency, as reported by our colleague Ars-Technica : “SpaceX has moved very quickly on the development [du Starhip]. […] Their goal was to build seven engines [Raptor 2] per week, and they hit it about a quarter ago. »

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