SpaceX plans to launch up to 52 missions by 2022

Tech

Commercial space company SpaceX plans to launch as many as 52 flights by 2022, a NASA security panel revealed at a meeting today. If successful, it would be the most launches the company has ever made in a single year, up from its previous record last year of 31 launches.

The impressive figure was given at a virtual meeting of NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, or ASAP, which provides guidance to the space agency on how to maintain safety within its largest programs. “NASA and SpaceX will have to be careful in 2022 not to fall victim to their success,” Sandy Magnus, a former NASA astronaut and member of the panel, said at the meeting. “There is an ambitious 52 launch manifesto for SpaceX over the course of the year. And that’s an incredible pace.”

SpaceX is an important partner for NASA on manned spaceflight. The company is responsible for transporting NASA astronauts and cargo to and from the International Space Station with its Crew Dragon spacecraft, and SpaceX is currently developing a next-generation rocket system called Starship to land humans on the moon’s surface. for NASA’s Artemis program.

However, SpaceX also has many customers outside of NASA. It periodically launches satellites for other companies, international customers and the Ministry of Defense. But a big chunk of SpaceX’s launches for the year will be for SpaceX itself. The company is currently building a massive satellite constellation called Starlink, which will involve launching thousands of spacecraft into low-to-mid-Earth orbit to provide broadband Internet access to the entire world. Every few weeks, SpaceX launches these satellites in batches of about 50 to 60 vehicles.

Space schedules are always subject to change, so there’s no guarantee that SpaceX will hit the 52 launch mark. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the company was aiming to reach 48 launches by 2021 but only made it to 31. So far, SpaceX has launched three missions this year and has another one scheduled for this afternoon. SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While it would certainly be admirable to hit the number, NASA’s ASAP panel also warned of the downsides of having such a packed manifesto. “Both NASA and SpaceX will need to ensure that the proper attention and priority is being directed to NASA missions,” Magnus said, “and that the appropriate resources are deployed to sustain that pace in a safe manner.”


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