SpaceX is Aiming for 100 Flights in 2023

Elon says SpaceX is aiming for 100 Falcon 9 flights in 2023.

Elon also shared a photo of the Mechazilla lifting the Super Heavy booster.

If SpaceX finishes the year with another 15 launches then they will have total 187 Falcon 9 launches at the end of 2022. One hundred launches in 2023 would put Falcon 9 at 287 launches.

This would put SpaceX Falcon 9 just behind four retired Soviet rockets in total launches. Only the Proton-K had payload at the level or higher than Falcon 9. The Proton-K had 311 launches and could put 19 tons into space with each launch.

Even if SpaceX gets the Starship Super Heavy boosters launching regularly, it seems likely that the Falcon 9 would still see heavy usage in 2024. SpaceX would pass the Proton-K rocket in 2024 for total launches.

The Falcon 9 could get completely phased out in favor of the Super Heavy Starship in 2025.

10 thoughts on “SpaceX is Aiming for 100 Flights in 2023”

  1. Early on, (HLS) Starship could be launched to LEO and fully refueled there. The Dragon with passengers could launch to LEO and the passengers transferred to Starship which could then travel to lunar orbit and back with propulsive return to LEO (not requiring the use of the heat shield). The passengers could then transfer back into Dragon and return to Earth. The private Dear Moon mission could be done this way. At that point the necessity of any further Artemis mission using SLS, Orion, and Gateway would be drawn into question especially given the relative costs.

    • And at that point, Starship becomes the commercial ferry to the Moon, for governments, companies and wealthy tourists alike.

      That’s what most people in the know have been waiting for since learning about Lunar Starship. A simpler, unified architecture based on Starship for lunar landings and returns, with Crew Dragon for LEO launch and return of people.

      The Gateway is currently just an excuse to keep the powers-that-be happy and save face with the SLS boondoggle, while lunar Starship gets funded and eventually goes on its own merry commercial life.

  2. I would say that 2025 is premature for phasing out the Falcon. You might see it phased out for cargo purposes that early, but it would likely be retained for manned flights for a few more years, at least for NASA, as they will not be in a hurry to man rate Starship.

    Remember that they refused to man rate the Dragon capsule so long as it used retropropulsive landings.

    Possibly you might see the Starship man rated for going up, but requiring use of a Dragon capsule for the return to Earth. It would certainly be feasible to equip the Starship with a Dragon capsule for return purposes.

    • Crewed Dragon is in a pretty sweet spot right now. Already man rated, flight proven and servicing the ISS and customers.

      It will be hard to prove Starship can be better for NASA’s human launches. For cargo, definitely, but not for people. It will require a sizeable set of launches to prove it’s relatively safe.

      And while technically not all crewed launchers have to receive NASA’s human rating, in practice most customers will want it and fly only on whatever has it.

      • Elon aiming for 100 flights in 2023 suggests V1.5 Starlink will continue to launch on Dragon at a fast pace for most of the year while Starship is still starting up and Starlink 2.0 is not expected in large numbers. Asynchronous messaging service can start up from mobile devices on v2 with very few Satellites in place.

    • As I recall it, NASA did not flat out refuse to consider man rating a Dragon that used propulsive landing. What I believe they told SpaceX is that NASA would consider man rating a propulsive landing Dragon if SpaceX would include additional testing in the development beyond which SpaceX intended to include. It was a fixed price contract, so the extra cost of that extra testing would not have been covered by payment from NASA, so SpaceX dropped that approach.

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