The future of SpaceX depends on 42,000 satellites and the Starship

The future of SpaceX depends on 42,000 satellites and the Starship

This year Elon Musk achieved milestones across multiple platforms, but space is what he finds most challenging.

This year, billionaire CEO Elon Musk reached several milestones across Tesla, SpaceX and Starlink. Time chose him as their Person of the Year for 2021 because “With a flick of his finger, the stock market soars or swoons.” Also, they say, “An army of devotees hangs on his every utterance.”

But as the race for space starts to heat up, with Musk facing competition from Europe, the focus is falling more on what’s going on in orbit. What is Musk planning for SpaceX in 2022?

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, SpaceX wants to use its Starship rocket for the kind of voyages to Mars and beyond that Elon Musk has long dreamed of pursuing.

But Starship also forms an important foundation of the future business strategy at his space company. They want to use the vehicle in part to build out Starlink, the satellite-internet service many investors believe could eventually form the bulk of the company’s revenue.

Musk tackles “a hard, hard, hard project”

SpaceX is struggling to engineer Starship into a reusable rocket that would sharply drive down launch costs. Musk recently said the ship takes up more of his time than any other single initiative, and warned the vehicle, along with the internet service, are creating significant challenges for the company. Musk even said that if SpaceX cannot complete the Starship development, that will have huge consequences for the company. “Starship is a hard, hard, hard, hard project,” he said at a December event hosted by The Wall Street Journal. “This is the biggest rocket ever made.”

Starship is a hard, hard, hard, hard project, this is the biggest rocket ever made

The company plans to rapidly boost the pace of satellite launches in the years ahead. SpaceX in July said it had so far launched around 1,800 Starlink satellites and was active in more than 20 countries. The FCC has authorized SpaceX to launch around 12,000 satellites, but the company wants to add at least around 30,000 more, according to commission filings.

Other companies, such as London-based OneWeb, are also creating networks of internet satellites, and an unit plans to do so in the future. Around 3.7 billion people globally remain unconnected to the internet, according to a recent report from two agencies at the United Nations, while U.S. officials have worked for years to improve access to high-speed internet in underserved areas.