SpaceX 2019 compilation captures a jaw-dropping year for space launches
Rocket landings are not groundbreaking anymore, and that’s great news for SpaceX.
Elon Musk’s space-faring firm has made dramatic progress in its efforts to reuse space rockets over the past six years, and 2019 demonstrated the impressive results of these efforts. SpaceX launched 13 missions last year, and successfully landed 15 boosters out of 16 attempts. It’s an incredible improvement from 2013, when it tried for the first time to land a booster after one of its three launches that year and failed.
The company’s incredible progress has now been captured in a year-in-review by YouTube user “STARSNOO.” The video, set to a suitably sci-fi musical medley, shows the highs and lows of a dramatic year for spaceflights.
It was the year that SpaceX looked to the future with the Starship, a prototype vessel designed to one day fly to Mars and beyond. It was also the same year SpaceX made big progress on its Crew Dragon capsule, paving the way for a new era of commercial human spaceflight.
Perhaps it’s why 2019 actually ranks as SpaceX’s third-busiest year for launches, behind 2017 with 18 and 2018 with 21. It matched, however, 2017’s record for most boosters successfully landed in one year.
Here’s a rundown of the video:
- Iridium-8. The video opens with SpaceX’s first launch of the year: the final 10 satellites for the Iridium-Next constellation, billed as the largest tech upgrade in history. The project covered 75 satellites, 66 of which are operational, for even faster telecommunications.
- Nusantara Satu. This mission lifted up three spacecraft, one of which made news when it crash-landed on the moon and spilled tardigrades onto the surface.
- Crew Dragon Demo-1. This captured the moment when SpaceX sent up its capsule designed for human spaceflight on a trip to the International Space Station, a key step to eventually sending up astronauts.
- Arabsat 6A. This was the first commercial flight for the Falcon Heavy,m the world’s most powerful operational rocket.
- Crew Dragon Pad Explosion. A failed test in April went viral. SpaceX would later cite an unexpected ignition of titanium as the culprit.
- CRS-17. The 17th commercial resupply mission also saw SpaceX bring its protective fairing cover back to Earth, an important step in the quest toward reusable rockets.
- Starlink v0.9. SpaceX’s first batch of 60 satellites would pave the way for the company’s big internet access service.
- Radarsat Constellation. These three rhino-sized satellites launched to aid Canada’s observation capabilities
- STP-2. Another fairing attempt for SpaceX, this time captured in footage where the cover shone bright blue as it returned to Earth.
- CRS-18. This mission included four heat shield panels, aimed at testing the capabilities of Starship.
- AMOS-17. This mission saw the Ms. Tree ship catch a fairing as it glided toward Earth.
- Starlink 1. This second batch of 60 satellites brought the constellation to new heights while catching astronomers by surprise due to their bright shielding. The mission was also notable as it was the first time it flew a booster four times, the first time it landed a booster for the fourth time, and first time it re-flew a fairing.
- Starship Boca Chica Failure. The explosion of a tank on the prototype for SpaceX’s first Mars-bound rocket stunned observers.
- CRS-19. The latest mission looked at whether barley seeds can grow in microgravity and whether mouse muscles change under space conditions.
- JCSAT-18 / Kacific1. SpaceX managed to successfully fly and land this booster for its third mission, but the fairing missed the boat.
What awaits SpaceX in 2020? The company is aiming to launch the Crew Dragon on its first manned mission in the first quarter. It’s also aiming to send the Starship on an orbital flight, which could pave the way for more ambitious missions like a trip around the moon. As the company gears up for another year, the future looks bright indeed.