June 26, 2017

SPACE: After nine launches in 2017, it’s tough to be an honest critic of SpaceX.

SpaceX continued to struggle with this launch manifest in 2015 (six successful flights, one accident) and in 2016 (eight successful flights, one accident). However, at the same time, SpaceX was innovating almost continuously, refining its rocket to improve its lift capacity and ability to land the first stage booster.

By now we can begin to see how SpaceX will build enough rockets and have the capacity to fly out its manifest. Later this summer, SpaceX will have three operational launch pads, and a fourth one—in Brownsville, Texas—may come online in late 2018. It has plenty of rockets in the pipeline when factoring in the company’s recovery of more than a dozen first stage boosters—and the successful re-flight of two of them. So far in 2017, SpaceX has successfully launched more rockets this year (nine) than in any previous year. And we’re not even to the end of June.

In retrospect, instead of running SpaceX down for failing to deliver on its launch manifest, perhaps Elbon, whose Boeing co-owns SpaceX competitor United Launch Alliance, should have been asking why customers were flocking to the company’s Falcon 9 rocket.

SpaceX has enjoyed a good 2017 so far.

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