Space travel is an interesting business. It’s like flying, except you don’t get to use wings, and there’s a constant explosion happening underneath the craft. It’s no surprise that it’s a difficult industry to keep safe. That said, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is now officially the safest ever made.
Why? Because it’s had a total of 139 launches. Of those, there was a single failure in flight — a resupply mission to the International Space Station in 2015. There was also a single launch that failed prior to takeoff, which isn’t counted towards that total.
Flying the Falcon 9
The Falcon 9’s launch-to-failure percentage really is quite impressive. It’s all the more so when you factor in that SpaceX likes to land their boosters so they can reuse them. Last month, the booster outstripped the number of launches by the Space Shuttle. The iconic launch vehicle performed 135 flights and experienced two (very visible) failures.
SpaceX managed to outstrip NASA’s performance in about a third of the time of the Space Shuttle program. But it still has a way to go to beat out the most used rocket of all time. Russia’s Soyuz rocket has been in production since 1957, performing almost 2,000 launches since its inception. Of that total, the series experienced 100 failures. The rocket was upgraded over the years, with the Soyuz-U version accounting for 786 successful launches.
The Falcon 9 might account for up to 500 launches by the end of the decade. At the rate SpaceX is going, it might actually start catching up to the Russian space stalwart.
Source: Ars Technica