Spacex completed a marathon with the third launch of a Falcon 9 in just over three days and, as usual, the launches produced stunning images. In one of the snapshots, the company’s drone captured the moment the rocket takes off into the sky in a format dubbed “medusa” (jellyfish in direct translation).
The launch took place at 7:05 p.m. (local time) last Saturday (8). Precisely five minutes after sunset, which made for a stunning picture. Against the darkening sky, the exhaust plumes produced by Falcon 9’s booster and upper stage lit up like a neon sign, producing an unusual shape.
Another highlight of the footage is the SpaceX drone ship, called A Shortfall of Gravitas. The vehicle was parked in the Atlantic Ocean about 650 kilometers off the coast of Florida. The equipment has a camera typically used to capture live footage of Falcon rockets landing on the ASOG deck. In this case, it was pointed in the perfect direction to capture takeoff from a unique angle.
The launch involved deploying Intelsat’s Galaxy 33 and Galaxy 34 geostationary communications satellites into orbit. Both satellites will provide satellite television service across the United States.
Throughout 2021, SpaceX completed 31 space launches. The projection for 2022, announced in January, was to increase that number to 52. Considering it’s October and the company has already passed 40 orbital missions so far, it’s possible the estimates could be exceeded.
For 2023, SpaceX aims to further increase its already impressive launch rate. Ars Technica’s Eric Berger tweeted on Wednesday that he had ‘heard’ the goal was to launch 100 missions next year – to which company founder and CEO Elon Musk responded quickly, confirming rumors.
Many of these upcoming missions will likely launch large batches of satellites to the broadband internet megaconstellation Starlink. After all, 25 of SpaceX’s 39 launches this year were dedicated service flights, putting an average of 50 satellites into orbit at once.