We will land Starship on Moon before 2022

NEW YORK CITY – PresidentX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell outlined plans for her two development programs at a recent investor conference, giving her a prediction of when the company will fly people on its next-generation rocket and begin offering the Internet from its satellite network.

The company has raised more than $ 1.3 billion this year to build both Starship, the huge rocket it wants to use to fly people to the moon and Mars, and Starlink, a network of as many as 30,000 satellites for to provide high speed internet. SpaceX is building several Starship rockets at the same time, as founder Elon Musk has the company on an ambitious timeline to begin launching Starship regularly and proving that it can be easily reused, like an airplane.

Gwynne Shotwell, President and CEO of Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), left, talks as NASA astronaut Bob Behnken looks on during NASA Commercial Crew Program (CCP) astronaut visit to SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, USA, Monday, August 13, 2018.

Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Shotwell, speaking at the Baron Fund's annual investment conference at the Metropolitan Opera House on Friday, provided an update on SpaceX's goals for Starship.

"We will have Starship in orbit next year; we will land it on the moon before 2022 with cargo and with humans shortly after," Shotwell said.

However, like Musk in his presentation last month, Shotwell secured his estimate, saying that "every time I make a prediction about the plan, I make myself a liar." Most of SpaceX is focused on the company's Crew Dragon capsule, which undergoes a recent series of tests before flying two NASA astronauts.

"It is a critical program for us, as it is our first step to fly astronauts," Shotwell said.

Shotwell said that SpaceX wants to fly the Crew Dragon often so the company can learn as much as it can about flying people safely. While SpaceX has dozens of successful rocket launches under its belt, it has yet to fly astronauts. The first Crew Dragon aircraft will go to the International Space Station – much like the unoccupied SpaceX test mission in March – and will be an important step toward its larger ambitions.

"Then we want to put people on Starship and send them to longer places," Shotwell said.

An animation of SpaceX's rocket Starship being shot through the Earth's atmosphere.


When completed, Starship will be a huge rocket while SpaceX designed the rocket to carry as many as 100 people. But more importantly, the company uses the lessons from the landing rockets to make the Starship fully reusable, Shotwell explained.

"If you are going to take people to other planets, you can't wait for a new aviation industry to evolve on the planet until you can figure out how to land a rocket. You have to figure out how to land, refuel, and come back, "Shotwell said.

SpaceX has successfully extracted 44 boosters from Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. But while recovery of the booster has been a step forward in rocket, it represents only the bottom of the rocket. SpaceX wants to regain both Starship, which will be the upper part of the rocket, and its Super Heavy booster.

"So we're not going to waste anything … all we want to spend money on is fuel," Shotwell said.

Starship to launch 400 satellites at once

But Starship will contain the company's plans in more ways than just exploration. Shotwell revealed that SpaceX plans to use the new rocket to deploy the Starlink network even faster than it already is.

SpaceX launched the first 60 Starlink satellites in May, wrapping them in the top of a Falcon 9 rocket. And just before launch, Musk told reporters that SpaceX has "sufficient capital" to get its Starlink satellite network "to an operational level."

"Over the next few weeks, we will launch another 60 and then get a hit rate by starting 60 every other week to fill in the constellation," Shotwell said.

"We need 360 to 400 to have a constant connection where the satellites can pass through the ground and talk to each other. To 1200 satellites, we will have coverage of the entire globe," Shotwell added.

SpaceX eliminates its 60 Starlink satellites simultaneously.

SpaceX | GIF by @thesheetztweetz

When SpaceX flies Starship regularly, she said the rocket will be able to launch nearly seven times as many Starlink satellites simultaneously.

"Starship can take 400 satellites at a time," Shotwell said.

SpaceX and its investors see Starlink as the key to funding Musk's vision of colonizing Mars. Shotwell said that in 2012, the company's board realized that the profit margins from the commercial satellites it launched for customers were "much higher" than SpaceX's launch business. Musk estimates Starlink could generate more than $ 30 billion a year – at least 10 times what SpaceX could bring in from its launch business at best.

Shotwell also noted that completing the Starlink network will cost less than some estimates. Morgan Stanley last week said it would cost around $ 60 billion for SpaceX to launch 30,000 Starlink satellites, Shotwell estimates.

"They were far away," Shotwell said.

Unlike traditional satellites, Starlinks will have a limited lifespan of about five years, Shotwell explained. SpaceX will "update the technology" in the Starlink network by quickly replacing the satellites, designed to deliberately burn up in the Earth's atmosphere.

"The satellites will be limited in life because the longer you want the satellites to live on orbit, the more money you put in," Shotwell said. solve any problems with the satellites, to set up the ones that work better in their place. "

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