SpaceX Accelerating Launch Frequency

In 2020, Nextbigfuture had forecasted that SpaceX could reach 858 to 1000 tons of payload capacity launched in 2021. This was based upon doubling the launch rate from 2019. In 2021, SpaceX should have 40-55 Falcon 9 launches and three Falcon Heavy launches. Forty Falcon 9 would each have about 22 tons of payload to low earth orbit and the Falcon Heavy have about 40-60 tons

SpaceX has launched five times in the last 22 days and is scheduled to launch three more times in the three weeks.

SpaceX is getting a high rate of reuse from their Falcon 9 boosters. They have re-used one booster ten times.

Every 2-5 years, SpaceX would go through major iterations of its rockets.

Currently, SpaceX is mainly using their fifth iteration rocket. The Falcon 9 Full Thrust had five sub-variants. The Full Thrust version of Falcon 9 is an upgraded version of the Falcon 9 v1.1. It was used the first time on 22 December 2015.

The first stage was upgraded with a larger liquid oxygen tank, loaded with subcooled propellants to allow a greater mass of fuel in the same tank volume. The second stage was also extended for greater fuel tank capacity. These upgrades brought a 33% increase to the previous rocket performance. Expendable: 22,800 kg (50,300 lb), 15,600 kg (34,400 lb) when landing. SpaceX is going at a pace of weekly launches of the Falcon 9.

SpaceX has increased its mass production of Starlink Satellites. They are able to produce 200-300 Starlink satellites every month. Even if paying customers do not increase their demand for SpaceX rocket launches from the 20 per year of the past two years. SpaceX is generating its own launch demand with Starlink satellites.

SpaceX Falcon Heavy launched in Feb, 2018. It can launch 63.8 tons of low earth orbit. The first stage boosters can be recovered. It has had three successful launches and is scheduled for one launch in 2020 and should have three launches in 2021.

SpaceX will likely maintain or increase the rate of Starlink satellite production. I think Starlink satellite production will increase at least 50% per year and sometimes 100% per year. It is similar to the scaling of Tesla car production. Tesla car production is increasing at 50% per year for the past ten years. There are some years where it increased by 100%.

If SpaceX can increase its production rate of Starlink satellites then they will be able to provide their own demand for more launches.

SpaceX has shown they can launch a Falcon 9 once every four days. Maintaining this rate for a full year would be 80 launches per year. This would be 1700 tons of payload capacity launched and might be possible in 2022. Six Falcon Heavy launches would increase the payload launched to 2000 tons in 2022.

If SpaceX is able to transition to Super Heavy Starship in place of Falcon 9 then this would be five times more payload. 80 Super Heavy Starship launches would be 8000 tons. There is the possibility that the Super Heavy Starship could reach daily launches or even more than one launch per day. Starlink satellite production would be a limiting demand factor unless other customers step up production.

SOURCES- SpaceX, Teslatari
Written by Brian Wang,

14 thoughts on “SpaceX Accelerating Launch Frequency”

  1. Well, we have tried bringing broadband access to remote areas. Heck even some cities only have one very expensive option because of politics. Certain companies were using their political leverage to prevent others from entering the market. The consumer is (literally) paying the price.
    Starlink can bypass all that. I can't wait for Comcast and co to get a well deserved kick in the balls.

  2. I agree, China is too powerful and has direct control over too much of the Musk empire for him to directly attack their information control.

    North Korea? Myanmar? Iran? Kazakhstan? Half the Middle East? They are a completely different matter.

  3. You don't really believe that starlink will bypass government monitoring. And again, progress that is not thought through ends up avenging us, no need for examples.

  4. Yes, I can't see him selling access in China, except maybe to government approved government sites, and he might be reluctant to do that. Setting up a Great Firewall version would probably be too much trouble, even if he was inclined to, since it's not like there would be dedicated satellites stationed over China. And he doesn't want to piss off a country capable of potting low flying satellites.

    But, while the NSA can tap ground based internet quite easily, without imposing much of a hit on network performance, the decentralized mesh network Musk is going to be running in orbit provides no such easy bottleneck to tap into. Obliging the NSA would just about double his network traffic, and be very obvious.

    Nor do I expect him to be inclined to oblige nominally private sector censors.

  5. Despite the libertarian dreams, he's no fool and he won't go against other nation's laws (as fair on unfair they seem to us).

    If China doesn't allow Starlink usage, they will probably even disable any access that looks like coming from mainland China. And yes, they will know from where any link is coming.

    I don't expect them to set up a Great Firewall version just for China either, but being a private company looking for profit, you never know.

    They don't need China to succeed with Starlink anyway. There's a big world outside of it.

  6. problem, musk owns companies in china, they will use that as leverage against him and starlink. if he allows free usage of his constellations you bet the CCP will have a problem. same with the US & Germany.

  7. I guess it would be a very different world if people weren't allowed to travel and communicate in the way they prefer

    That's called the Paleolithic. Albeit that's not technically true. They were "allowed" to do as they pleased, just didn't have the means.

  8. The curious thing about the ole trollies was that the *tire* companies, I believe, were able to silently elect board members to the gov and shut them down w/o discussion. Private transpo companies would have fought back. Similar to how anti trust is really about the big companies *buying* gov control of the competition so cheaply that they were made smaller to control each other. Reform the gov? You surely joke.

  9. Yes, their business model is to do their business, rather than shut down in favor of somebody else who's doing something else. Odd, that.

    And, yes, I guess it would be a very different world if people weren't allowed to travel and communicate in the way they prefer, but instead were forced to do it in the manner some theorist somewhere favored.

    Starlink is catching a lot of flack, but there's an agenda behind the flack you may not have considered: Currently, the NSA and other intelligence agencies have good access to ground based communications backbones, and governments find them conveniently vulnerable to demands for censorship, given their reliance on physical assets within the easy reach of those governments.

    Starlink will, when fully running, bypass pretty much all of that, much to the horror of spooks and censors. Not only will point to point communications escape their reach, Starlink will likely start hosting sites in orbit beyond the reach of deplatforming efforts. Even DNS blacklisting probably won't prevent you from reaching a site via Starlink, if would make sense for them to run their own DNS servers up there, too. Everything that avoids a trip to the ground reduces latency, after all.

    Starlink is a nightmare for censors and spooks, and they can't be open about why they don't like it. But they can promote various pretextual attacks.

    Don't be their useful idiot. Fight the power, don't assist it.

  10. Perhaps indicative of the launch frequency, but your status chart at the head of the article, from February, is pretty dated.

  11. So their business model is to increase launch rate to increase their starlink delivery infinitely instead of humanity learning to rely on less disruptive and more skylight friendly ways to increase communication? This is no better than what automotive companies did to make public transportation obsolete in the US. How about relearning to communicate less in distance and more in person? The value of that is not yet being counted. This is an excellent example of how when left to its own is choosing the less favorable ways forward that actually are very destructive in the long run!


Leave a Comment