SpaceX launches its first mission of 2023 following a record-smashing 2022

The company almost doubled its launch record set the previous year. This year, it will likely break new ground with Starship.
Chris Young
SpaceX's Falcon 9 at launch.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 at launch.

SpaceX / YouTube 

SpaceX's first mission of 2023 launched a massive 114 satellites into orbit.

The Falcon 9 rideshare mission, called Transporter-6, launched at 10:56 a.m. EST (1456 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

The new mission kickstarts what is set to be another groundbreaking year for SpaceX as the company readies for the orbital launch of its next-generation Starship rocket.

It also follows on from what was a record-breaking year for SpaceX in 2022, with the company almost doubling its previous launch record.

The Transporter-6 mission

SpaceX's Transporter-6 mission launched the EOS SAT-1 for EOS Data Analytics (EOSDA). It is the first of seven agriculture data satellites of the firm's new constellation, which is expected to be complete by 2025. The EOS SAT-1 will observe approximately 386,000 miles (1 million square kilometers) of agricultural land every day, using 11 bands of light, to provide crucial data from the skies.

That data will help farmers to better administer their crops and also reduce their carbon emissions, energy consumption, and water usage.

In a press statement, EOSDA CEO Artiom Anisimov said "this launch brings new game-changing possibilities of satellite technologies to the agricultural industry. EOSDA will now work with proprietary datasets to provide even deeper and more accurate insights for its customers and partners."

Other satellites launched aboard Transporter-6 include Spire Global's six satellites for monitoring maritime and aviation traffic via ADS-B technology. Four Kleos spacecraft, meanwhile, are being deployed into a sun-synchronous orbit from which they will track "hidden and illegal activity" via radio frequency transmissions.

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2022 was a record-breaking year for SpaceX

On Dec.30, SpaceX launched the EROS C-3 mission, the company's 61st and final launch of 2022. As SpaceX pointed out on Twitter shortly afterward, that means the firm launched "nearly double" its record set in 2021 of 31 launches.

For today's launch of Transporter-6, SpaceX utilized a reusable first stage that carried out its 15th flight. The booster returned to the launch pad for a landing at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station shortly after launch.

SpaceX prepares for the launch of Starship

SpaceX is, of course, working toward the orbital launch of its fully-reusable Starship rocket, which will drastically reduce the cost of successive launches due to its reusability.

SpaceX will use its next-generation Raptor engines for Starship and it has tested a number of these during recent static fire tests on both Booster 7 and Ship 24 — the Super Heavy prototype and the Starship first stage that will likely fly to orbit for Starship's maiden flight.

A number of crewed Starship missions are already scheduled, including DearMoon, which recently announced its full crew list of artists. Once operational, Starship will be the world's most powerful rocket ahead of NASA's Space Launch System, which recently took the crown from SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket.