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SpaceX brings back Falcon 9 plans

August 24, 2022

Elon Musk had, by now, hoped to be using the SpaceX Starship rocket to launch its Starlink satellites in significantly larger batches that the current 50 or so per flight. But various regulations have kept the Starship demo flights firmly on the ground.

The delay in testing and launching Starships is impacting Musk’s plan to get his 30,000 extra satellites into orbit. Consequently, its back to Plan A, implied SpaceX’s director/satellite policy David Goldman implied in a letter to the FCC.

A Starship could carry some 100 tons of payload into low Earth orbit. The existing Falcon 9’s can manage a very useful but smaller 23 tons into orbit. Starship is also the preferred carrier given that ‘second generation’ Starlinks are bigger and heavier that the current 1st Generation craft.

“SpaceX is proud to inform the Commission that it has decided to further accelerate its already record-breaking deployment schedule for its Gen2 system by using both its new Starship vehicle as well as its tested and dependable Falcon 9. While SpaceX will use technically identical satellites on both rockets, the physical structures will be tailored to meet the physical dimensions of the rockets on which they will be launched,” stated Goldman.

He explained that SpaceX’s 2nd Generation craft will be launched into three 500 kms orbital ‘shells’ across nine specific orbits between 340-614 kms altitude.

Goldman’s bottom line message was that the result would be that more Americans will receive high-quality broadband faster.

But simple mathematics shows that continuing to use the core Falcon 9 rocket, and carrying about 50 satellites per launch, will take some time. The sooner Starships get approved for flight and their cargo comprises hundreds of 2nd Generation Starlnks the better.

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