Capping a record year, SpaceX launched a $186 million Israeli Earth-imaging satellite early Friday, marking the 61st and final Falcon 9 launch of 2022 and seventh this month, both modern-day records.
Since the rocket’s first launch in 2010, SpaceX has achieved 194 Falcon 9 launches overall — 198 including four triple-core Falcon Heavies — amassing a streak of 179 consecutive successful flights since the company’s only flight failure in 2010. 2015.
This year’s trip total is less than double last year’s. More flights are expected in 2023, including two astronaut NASA ferry flights to the International Space Station, at least two crew commercial flights, two cargo flights at the station, and the first orbital launch of SpaceX’s massive Super Heavy rocket/Starship.
“61st Launch of 2022. Congratulations SpaceX!” tweeted company founder Elon Musk.
The final mission of the year began at 2:38 a.m. EST when the engines of the Falcon 9 first stage blasted to life, propelling the 229-foot rocket smoothly off Launch Pad 4-East at Vandenberg Space Force Base northwest of Los Angeles. Angeles.
The first stage, on its eleventh flight, propelled the rocket out of the lower atmosphere before falling away and bouncing back by itself for a successful landing near the launch pad. It was SpaceX’s eighth landing in California and its 160th successful recovery overall.
Meanwhile, the single engine powering the second stage fired power for seven minutes and 15 seconds, launching the EROS C-3 satellite into its planned orbit about 15 minutes after liftoff.
“It’s official! We are excited to announce that #EROSC3 has been successfully launched into orbit by @SpaceX!” Satellite operator ImageSat International tweeted.
The Earth Resources Observing Satellite – EROS – was built by Israel Aircraft Industries and is owned by ImageSat International. The EROS C-3 is equipped with backup camera systems capable of resolving surface features less than one foot across.
The new satellite joins two others already in orbit believed to be “commercial” Israeli spy satellites. Additional satellites, including a radar imaging spacecraft, are planned as part of a next-generation constellation.
“In today’s military realities, intelligence gathering relies on speed, accuracy, and quality,” ImageSat says on its website. Learn about EROS C, the next generation of remote sensing technology and the foundation of the EROS NG Constellation, one of the world’s most powerful intelligence gathering assets.
“With ISI’s Advanced Ground Control Sector, it enables defense and intelligence organizations to conduct operations under strict confidentiality and data protection, as well as to carry out missions autonomously.”
Company documents have valued the EROS C-3 satellite at $186 million, according to Spaceflight Now.
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