SpaceX’s fully reusable Starship launch vehicle could launch on its orbital maiden flight this summer, kickstarting a new era of spaceflight.
Reports in February suggested NASA officials were worried Starship is so advanced it could “obsolesce all existing launch systems”.
And that’s before they knew about Starship’s Pez dispenser-style Starlink deployment mechanism.
Starship will be a Starlink 2.0 Pez dispenser
The impressive feature was just revealed in a video deck of a presentation SpaceX CEO Elon Musk gave to employees last week. It shows how Starship will efficiently deploy the thousands of Starlink 2.0 satellites SpaceX intends to send into orbit in the coming years.
The deck, which Musk shared on Twitter (viewable below), shows a video animation of Starship deploying Starlink 2.0 satellites through a thin opening near the cone of the spacecraft. Under Musk’s social media post, one of the CEO’s followers wrote, “Starship’s PEZ dispenser in action”, to which Musk replied, “maybe we should make an actual Starship model that dispenses Pez for our merch store”.
Deck from SpaceX all-hands update talk I gave last week pic.twitter.com/ApsdPjjukh
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 5, 2022
SpaceX’s current-gen Starlink satellites are launched in batches of roughly 50 satellites aboard the company’s Falcon 9 rocket. However, in an interview with Everyday Astronaut YouTuber Tim Dodd, Musk recently said Starship “is the only thing that can carry the Starlink 2 satellites. Falcon has neither the volume nor the mass-to-orbit capability required for Starlink 2.”
During that same interview, Musk explained that the next-gen satellite will measure roughly 23 ft (7 m), weigh roughly 1.25 tons (roughly 2,750 lb), and will be “almost an order of magnitude more capable” than current “Starlink 1” satellites — though he didn’t specify whether he was referring to bandwidth or throughput.
Musk also explained that Starlink 2.0 would be roughly four times heavier than V1.5 and just under five times heavier than V1.0.
SpaceX prepare for Starhip orbital maiden flight this summer
The Starlink 2 satellites are part of SpaceX’s proposal, submitted to the FCC in May 2020, to send an additional 30,000 Starlink satellites into orbit. However, the bid is still under review by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) amid reports that Starlink satellites could raise the risk of space collisions and reduce the astronomical community’s capacity to detect dangerous asteroids.
Before all of that can happen though, SpaceX will have to take Starship orbital. In the case of Starship, SpaceX is awaiting the Federal Aviation Authority’s (FAA’s) environmental review, which has been delayed on a number of occasions.
The deadline was recently pushed back to June 13, meaning it’s increasingly unlikely SpaceX will be able to squeeze in that June orbital maiden flight SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell predicted last month.