Elon Musk’s SpaceX to launch its commercial Starship in 2021

The first commercial mission for SpaceX’s Starship and Super Heavy launch system will likely be taking place in 2021, a company executive said.

Chief Executive Musk told the reporters about the technological hurdles being faced by SpaceX’s Starlink constellation, including the antennas that track the satellites as they move through the sky and laser communication systems that allow the spacecraft to talk to each other. Last month, SpaceX launched the first 60 satellites of its planned constellation.

Jonathan Hofeller, SpaceX’s vice president of commercial sales, said, “The company is in talks with prospective customers for the first commercial launch of that system roughly two years from now.” 

“We are in discussions with three different customers as we speak right now to be that first mission,” Hofeller said at the APSAT conference here. “Those are all telecom companies.”

SpaceX said Friday, “it will test the first batch of Starlink satellites using ground antennas in North America. Eventually, the company wants to put as many as 1 million ground stations in place that will connect to the satellite network, according to a document the company submitted to US regulators.”

In the meantime, it’s unclear when the next launch of Starlink satellites will occur. Musk said “The company will continue to launch batches of 60 satellites at a time, with the goal of getting between 1,000 to 2,000 spacecraft up each year. It should take about 24 launches to reach global internet coverage.”

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