This year’s busy launch schedule has pushed SpaceX to transition its Falcon 9 rocket cores from testing and development to mass production.
SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell made the announcement at the Federal Aviation Administration’s Commercial Space Transportation Conference last week. At the conference, Shotwell also said that the company would make several modifications to make the rockets “even more robust” for reuse after examining the Falcon 9 that the company landed in December.
“Now we’re in this factory transformation to go from building six or eight a year to about 18 cores a year,” Shotwell said, according to Gizmodo. “By the end of this year, we should be at over 30 cores per year.”
The company’s next launch is schedule for Feb. 24 and will put a SES-9 satellite into orbit. Given that the rocket will use nearly all of its fuel — reaching about 35,000 kilometers above the Earth’s surface — SpaceX is expected to again use a drone ship for a landing at sea.
Following the February launch, Shotwell estimates that launches could take place every two to three weeks through the rest of the year, mainly through missions for the International Space Station and the U.S. Air Force.
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