On December 21, 2021, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched Dragon on the 24th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-24) mission for NASA from historic Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, completing our 31st and final launch of the year. Dragon separated from Falcon 9’s second stage about twelve minutes after liftoff and will autonomously dock to the space station on Wednesday, December 22.
CRS-24 also marked the 100th recovery of an orbital class rocket booster. SpaceX remains the only launch provider in the world capable of propulsive landing and re-flight of orbital class rockets. While most rockets are expended after launch — akin to throwing away an airplane after a cross-country flight — SpaceX is working toward a future in which reusable rockets are the norm. To date, SpaceX has:
- Launched 138 successful missions;
- Landed first stage rocket boosters 100 times; and
- Reflown boosters 78 times, with flight-proven first stages completing 75 percent of SpaceX’s missions since the first re-flight of a Falcon 9 in 2017.
2021 was particularly impressive, during which the SpaceX team:
- Launched 94 percent of all missions on flight-proven Falcon 9 boosters;
- Safely carried eight astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA, in addition to transporting ~28,000 pounds of critical cargo and scientific research to and from the orbiting laboratory;
- Completed the world’s first all-civilian astronaut mission to orbit, which flew farther from planet Earth than any human spaceflight since the Hubble missions;
- Launched humanity’s first planetary defense test to redirect an asteroid, among other important scientific missions; and
- Deployed more than 800 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit which are helping to connect over 150,000 customers and counting around the world with high-speed, low-latency internet.
In the year ahead, SpaceX’s launch cadence will continue to increase, as will the number of flight-proven missions, human spaceflights, Falcon Heavy missions, and people connected with internet by Starlink. We’re also targeting the first orbital flight of Starship, and have resumed development of a lunar lander for NASA that will help return humanity to the Moon, on our way to Mars and beyond.