But this year, SpaceX has taken its cadence to another level, with a mix of payloads including its Starlink satellites, crew and cargo missions for NASA, Department of Defense missions, and commercial satellites. As of Monday, the Falcon 9 rocket has launched every 6.4 days this year and has lofted nearly 300,000 kg into low Earth orbit. This is considerably more than every other country and company in the world combined. Two more Starlink launches are likely this week.
SpaceX has also continued to push the boundaries of reuse. In the last month, the company flew three different first stages on its 13th flights. SpaceX officials say they have gathered enough data about reusing these first-stage cores that, for now, there seem to be no showstoppers to preclude flying many more missions each.
To put this cadence into perspective, consider the flight rate of SpaceX’s main US-based competitor, United Launch Alliance. Counting both its Delta and Atlas fleets, ULA launched its last 31 rockets from March 19, 2017, to the present day. That’s a cadence of one launch every 64 days.
Actually, SpaceX has launched about the same number of rockets that ULA has during those two timeframes. They’ve just launched each one a bunch more times.