Chris Forrester has filed a story that, on January 6th, SpaceX is scheduled to launch one of their Falcon 9 rockets into LEO carrying 60 ‘Starlink’ satellites — the rocket was successfully test fired on January 4th.
SpaceX will also have a floating barge down range in the Atlantic Ocean ready to provide a landing stage for the rocket. The company will also ready a couple of ships with giant nets that will be deployed to capture the valuable rocket fairings, each worth a reported $6 million.
However, this first launch of the new year is just the start of a heavy schedule for Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The company is planning another three launches this January, two of which will carry similar cargoes of Starlink satellites.
By the close of this month, Musk could have 300 working satellites in space and be adding another 1,200 during the course of 2020. The process could see Starlink’s ‘broadband by satellite’ system brought into use, perhaps as early as this autumn’s notorious Hurricane Season for use by safety and rescue personnel.
There’s more — also due in January is a test launch of Musk’s Dragon (unmanned) crew capsule craft, due later this week on January 11th. Musk has contracts in place with NASA to deliver human astronauts to the International Space Station later this year.
Back in 2018 Musk, launched his rockets 21 times. Last year (2019) was a little slower with just 13 launches. This slowdown is being blamed on a lack of clients with satellites ready to launch and was not helped by a definite downturn in commercial launch activity.
Also on SpaceX’s busy manifest is a longer test launch of Musk’s giant Big Falcon Rocket Starship SN1, with Musk saying this will occur within the next two to three months. A test engine firing is scheduled for January 6 at 3:00 p.m. (Texas) time.