SpaceX targets 60 launches in 2022
March 31, 2022
By Chris Forrester
Elon Musk has confirmed that SpaceX is targeting 60 launches during 2022 for its Falcon 9 rocket. Besides its own Starlink launches, the SpaceX client list includes NASA flights and various scientific missions as well as new obligations this coming winter from OneWeb which has abandoned planned launches by Russia.
Musk, in a tweet, added that he is expecting there to be more than 4,200 Starlink satellites in operation within 18 months “which is two-thirds of all active satellites of Earth”.
Last week SpaceX confirmed that Starlink now has more than 250,000 subscribers, and as well as shipping Starlink terminals and dishes to help the Ukrainian war effort they can also count Intelsat as a client. Intelsat is using Starlink dishes and terminals as part of its full-service supply and using its own gateways for connectivity.
Since 2010 there have been 148 launches from the Falcon 9 rocket family. This year the launches have run from Flight 135 (for its own Starlink programme) to Flight 145 on March 19th (also for Starlink satellites). In between there have been classified missions, scientific missions and upcoming ‘Dragon’ flights to and from the International Space Station.
SpaceX is getting ready for an intense month of launch activity. April will see a couple of NASA ‘Crew Dragon’ missions carrying passengers to – and from – the International Space Station as well as commercial launches. Currently its next Starlink flight is around April 14th and it has (on about April 15) the launch of a classified spy satellite for the US government. At the end of the month it is likely that it will launch Nilesat 301 for the Egyptian satellite operator.
Nilesat 301 has been built by Thales Alenia Space and is to be placed at the Egyptian ‘hot spot’ of 7 degrees West. Nilesat 301 will also help extend the company’s provision of Ku-band communications and direct digital broadcasting services in two new large regions of Africa, while also providing broadband Ka-band connectivity over all of Egypt.
Thales will be responsible for satellite design, production, testing and in-orbit acceptance tests. Thales Alenia Space will also provide satellite control system for Nilesat in both Cairo and Alexandria. Nilesat 301 has a design life of at least 15 years.