A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket with the Psyche spacecraft launches from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Oct. 13, 2023.

Chandan Khanna | AFP | Getty Images

Elon Musk’s SpaceX smashed its previous annual record for orbital rocket launches, pulling off 96 successful missions in 2023 at a blistering average launch pace of every four days.

SpaceX this year achieved 91 launches with its Falcon 9 rocket and another five with the Falcon Heavy, topping its previous annual record of 61 orbital launches in 2022. For context, SpaceX launched Falcon 9 more times this year than in the entire first decade after the rocket’s debut.

Along the way this year, SpaceX landed its 250th orbital rocket booster as well as launched and landed a single rocket 19 times, continuing to push the boundaries of reusing rockets. This week, SpaceX also set a new company record for shortest time between orbital launches, at just under three hours, which represents the tightest time between Florida launches since NASA’s Gemini 11 mission in 1966.

What’s more, SpaceX’s launch count for the year does not include its pair of Starship test flights, which were not carrying commercial payloads bound for orbit.

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Jon Edwards, SpaceX vice president of Falcon launch vehicles, wrote in a social media post that just a few years ago, Musk suggested “a goal of 100 launches as a thought experiment.”

“Here we are. I’m so incredibly proud to work with the best team on earth, and so excited to see what we achieve next year,” Edwards wrote.

SpaceX officials have said the company aims to launch as many as 144 Falcon missions in 2024, as it continues to deploy satellites for the Starlink system that drives a major portion of its $180 billion valuation.

Elon Musk's Starlink business has grown quickly and so has its influence

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