SpaceX Rockets U.S. Launches to New Heights in 2022

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on June 17, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Powered by 33 flights of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster, the United States leads all nations with 48 launch attempts through the first seven months of the year. The total is three short of the number of U.S. launches attempted last year, and far ahead of the 27 launches conducted by second place China through the end of July. The U.S. has conducted more launches than the 43 flights conducted by the rest of the world combined.

A number of notable flights were conducted. SpaceX launched two Crew Dragons to the International Space Station (ISS), including the first fully privately funded mission to the orbiting laboratory. United Launch Alliance (ULA) launched Boeing’s CST-100 Starship crew vehicle on an automated flight test to ISS, a crucial step before astronauts to fly on the spacecraft. Small satellite launch provider Rocket Lab conducted its first deep-space mission by sending a spacecraft the size of a microwave to the moon.

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Commercial Space Travelers Outnumbered Professional Astronauts in First Half of 2022

Axiom Mission 1 astronauts, left to right, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy, Michael López-Alegría, and Eytan Stibbe. The astronauts are approved by NASA and its international partners for Axiom Space’s first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station. (Credits: Chris Gunn – Axiom Space)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The first half of 2022 saw more commercial travelers — 16 — launch into space than the 10 professional astronauts who work for government-run space agencies. However, those numbers come with an asterisk or two.

Four of the 14 astronauts who launched into orbit flew on Axiom Space’s privately funded and operated crew flight to the International Space Station (ISS). Blue Origin launched 12 individuals into space on two flights of the company’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle.

The other 10 astronauts who launched to ISS and the Tiangong space station worked fulltime for NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), China Manned Space Agency, or Russia’s Roscosmos State Space Corporation. SpaceX flew American and European astronauts to ISS on the company-owned Crew Dragon spacecraft under a NASA contract. The Russians and Chinese flew aboard government-owned and operated spacecraft.

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Dragon Docks Delivering Science Benefitting Humans

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship approaches the space station during an orbital sunrise above the Pacific Ocean. (Credit: NASA TV)

NASA Mission Update

While the International Space Station was traveling more than 267 miles over the South Atlantic Ocean, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft autonomously docked to the forward-facing port of the station’s Harmony module at 11:21 a.m. EDT today, with NASA astronauts Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins monitoring operations from the station.

The Dragon launched on SpaceX’s 25th contracted commercial resupply mission for NASA at 8:44 p.m., Thursday, July 14, from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After Dragon spends about one month attached to the space station, the spacecraft will return to Earth with cargo and research.

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NASA, SpaceX Launch Climate Science Research, More to Space Station

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 14, 2022, with a Cargo Dragon spacecraft aboard for SpaceX’s 25th resupply mission to the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA TV)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — A SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft carrying more than 5,800 pounds of science experiments, crew supplies, and other cargo is on its way to the International Space Station after launching at 8:44 p.m. EDT Thursday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The spacecraft launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy for the company’s 25th commercial resupply services mission for NASA. It is scheduled to autonomously dock at the space station about 11:20 a.m. Saturday, July 16, and remain there for about a month. Coverage of arrival will begin at 10 a.m. on NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app.

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International Space Station National Lab Sponsoring Diverse Set of Experiments Launching on SpaceX CRS-25

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (CASIS PR) – A wide variety of research and technology development payloads sponsored by the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory will soon launch to the orbiting laboratory. These payloads are among the more than 4,700 pounds of cargo onboard SpaceX’s 25th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission (contracted by NASA), launching no earlier than 8:44 p.m. EDT on Thursday, July 14, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

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NIH-Funded Tissue Chip Investigations to Fly on SpaceX CRS-25 Mission to the ISS

Tissue chips for a UCSF investigation are prepared for launch to the ISS onboard Space CRS-25. (Credit: Sonja Schrepfer, University of California, San Francisco)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (CASIS PR) – In the absence of effective countermeasures, prolonged spaceflight can result in many of the same physiological changes associated with aging—bone loss, muscle deterioration, and altered immune system function—only at a much quicker rate. This makes the microgravity environment of the International Space Station (ISS) a valuable platform for research on conditions associated with the aging process.

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NSF-Funded Research to Improve Manufacturing of Everyday Products and Medicines Will Launch on SpaceX CRS-25

A SpaceX Cargo Dragon resupply ship departs the space station during a previous mission in July 2021. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (CASIS PR) – From salad dressing to foam body wash, many everyday products could get an eco-friendly upgrade thanks to microgravity research. The City College of New York (CCNY) is launching an investigation to the International Space Station (ISS) on SpaceX’s 25th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission to test more eco-friendly ways to create foam products (which consist of gas bubbles dispersed in liquids or solids) and products made through emulsion (when tiny droplets of one liquid are dispersed in another fluid).

However, this is not the only investigation on SpaceX CRS-25 aiming to improve products used by millions of people worldwide. Researchers from Arizona State University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) are leveraging the ISS National Laboratory to improve the mass production of pharmaceuticals like vaccines. These investigations are funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and seek to use the unique space environment to help answer scientific questions that have been challenging to address on the ground.

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SpaceX CRS-25 to Launch Stem Cells From Cedars-Sinai Scientists to Space

Cedars-Sinai Scientists Will Test Whether it is Possible to Produce Large Batches of Stem Cells in a Low Gravity Environment

LOS ANGELES (Cedars-Sinai PR) — Cedars-Sinai and Space Tango are launching pilot-scale systems for the in-space production of stem cells to see if they can elevate the next generation of stem cell and gene therapies by harnessing the near-zero gravity conditions of spaceflight .Cedars-Sinai SpaceX CRS-25 Mission Patch.This mission, funded by a NASA Research Announcement award, will help researchers explore the effects of microgravity on induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). The work can potentially lead to better ways to manufacture large numbers of cells in the absence of gravity. 

Microgravity has become of great interest to stem cell scientists due to unique properties it grants to biological tissues and processes that could potentially help mass-produce cells or other products in a way that is not possible to do on Earth.

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Join the CRS-25 Virtual NASA Social to Experience the Next SpaceX Space Station Cargo Launch

Cargo Dragon docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Social media users are invited to register to take part in another global virtual NASA Social for the next SpaceX delivery of NASA science investigations, supplies, and equipment to the International Space Station. SpaceX’s 25th Commercial Resupply Services mission is targeted to launch on Friday, June 10 at 10:22 a.m. EDT on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

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