SpaceX is reportedly targeting a total of 52 mission launches through 2022, a virtual meeting of US’ space administration body revealed. Sandy Magnus, member of USA’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa)’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (Asap) stated that the company has a total of 52 planned missions this year — up from its previous year’s target of 48 launches.
However, Magnus’ statement came as a note of caution with regards to the number of launches that the private, commercial space company has in plans. “There’s an ambitious 52-launch manifest for SpaceX over the course of the year. And that’s an incredible pace. Nasa and SpaceX will have to be watchful during 2022 that they’re not victims of their success,” Magnus said.
The Nasa is one of SpaceX’s biggest clients, using the company’s Crew Dragon rocket to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). SpaceX also helps Nasa send cargo to the ISS. Beyond this, SpaceX also takes on commercial clients around the world to launch satellites in low- and medium-Earth orbits. On top of this, the company also has its own launch mandates to deploy an ongoing series of satellites that would complete its planned Starlink constellation.
The latter has global consequences too, including India. Starlink is one of the many satellite-based internet endeavours, which seeks to deploy a chain of satellites that would eventually beam down internet connectivity to Earth. This would help connect parts of the world where laying down physical internet cables is difficult due to geographical obstructions.
India is one of the nations where SpaceX’s Starlink is set to become operational. However, the company recently ran into trouble after the Indian government deemed the company to be accepting preorders without having acquired the requisite permissions first. SpaceX has since reportedly applied for all necessary permissions, but it remains unclear as to when might it start operating.
Globally, many users who paid a $99 (approx. Rs 7,500) deposit to SpaceX to become one of their first customers have complained that there has been no communication from the company regarding when might it be operational, and how users may seek refunds against their orders.
While SpaceX’s target appears to be lofty, it may not necessarily meet the 52-launch target. In 2021, the company had targeted a total of 48 launches, but could achieve only 31. Delays in the space sector, however, are not unusual since a number of factors including weather conditions and minute technical issues could put off a planned launch by days or weeks at a time — thereby pushing subsequent launches behind schedule.