SpaceX Plans First Commercial Launch for 2021

Share

SpaceX Reveals Timeline for First Commercial Launch Mission

On Wednesday SpaceX announced plans for their first commercial launch.  The company set its sights on launching in 2021, according to Johnathan Hofeller, vice president of commercial sales for the space company. Hofeller also said SpaceX is currently in talks with three clients for the first mission.  All three are in the telecom sector.

SpaceX Falcon 9

SpaceX Falcon 9

Most of the news concerning SpaceX of late focused on the company’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rocket tests. However, the planned commercial launches use a new rocket and capsule system called the Super Heavy Booster and the Starship.  We reported before that Elon Musk wants a network of over 12,000 satellites in low-earth orbit by the middle of the 2020s.  These new, fully reusable rockets are no doubt a part of that vision.  

The Super Heavy Booster, according to Hofeller, carries up to 20 metric tons into geosynchronous orbit.  It will also carry more than 100 metric tons into low earth orbit.  SpaceX plans to supersede their Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets eventually with the Super Heavy Booster and Starship system.  However, customers who still want to order flights on the Falcon rockets will be able to do. The company will make them as long as there is demand, Hofeller said. 

Proving the new Rockets

With the Falcon 9 and the Falcon Heavy systems proving to be an overwhelming success (the rocket has been successfully re-used three times so far), SpaceX plans on doing a lot of testing of these new rockets in order to convince customers that the newer, fully-reusable rockets will be as reliable as the Falcons are.  In April the Starship was tested with a  “hop” – by which it was lifted a few centimeters off of the ground and returned safely.

Hofeller didn’t specify the number of tests planned, but the company is serious about attracting buyers. The pricing has gone down, as well.  The cost of a Falcon 9 launch dropped to about $50 million dollars from $62 million recently. Musk and other SpaceX executives claim that costs will continue to drop.

Why the Replacement?

The Falcon 9 and the Falcon Heavy rockets are remarkable in their capacity to be re-used. When SpaceX was designing the Falcon systems, they had issues making them fully reusable, however.  The new rockets have solved that problem, which is why Musk, Hofeller and other SpaceX executives claim that the costs will get lower.  The current Block 5 version of the Falcon rocket is designed to be launched up to ten times before it needs refurbishment. 

The new rockets can also retrieve a satellite or other piece of equipment from orbit and return it safely to earth.  This will definitely come in handy with a web of 12,000 satellites to maintain.  We’ll keep following progress from both SpaceX and Boeing as we get closer and closer to seeing commercial space flight as a reality.

 

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.