SpaceX
Space Race

SpaceX Smashed the Record for Commercial Space Launches This Year

It's been a banner year for Elon Musk's SpaceX.

Launch Box

As humankind ventures farther up the Earth’s gravity well, it’s been a banner year for Elon Musk’s commercial spaceflight venture SpaceX.

Case in point: Business Insider reports that SpaceX has shattered the record for commercial rocket launches in a year, at 20. That beats the prior record of 18 launches in a year — which was also set by SpaceX, in 2017. Before that, the figure stood at 16, set by United Launch Alliance in 2009.

21 Pilots

SpaceX has one more launch scheduled for 2018 — a satellite called GPS Block IIIA, which will improve location tracking services for the U.S. Air Force — bringing the company’s total tally of launches to 21.

It’s worth noting, though, that the 21 launches falls short of Musk’s most optimistic prediction for the company in 2018: that it would launch more rockets than any country on Earth. That honor, Business Insider found, went to China, which has launched about 35 rockets this year.

Starboy

Musk has had a tough year in the press, with drama as his electric car company, Tesla, struggled to bring its Model 3 compact to market. But the launch record comes as a bright cap to a year — and just weeks after Tesla reportedly managed to churn out 1,000 Model 3 vehicles per day.

“Life cannot just be about solving one sad problem after another,” Musk tweeted earlier this year after launching a Tesla Roadster into space. “There need to be things that inspire you, that make you glad to wake up in the morning and be part of humanity. That is why we did it. We did for you.”

An earlier version of this story referred to traveling “into” Earth’s gravity well, when space travel actually entails going up the gravity well. It has been updated.

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