On August 18, SKY Perfect JSAT, Asia's largest satellite operator headquartered in Japan, announced that it selected SpaceX Starship to launch its Superbird-9 communications satellite. It is SpaceX's first official Starship launch system contract that has been announced publicly for launching a satellite to orbit. The Starship vehicle is currently under development at the Starbase facility in South Texas. The aerospace company is preparing to perform the first-ever orbital flight test of Starship this year, potentially in September. SpaceX founder Elon Musk estimates they will successfully conduct a Starship orbital flight somewhere between 1 or 12 months. The company has ambitious plans to be ready to launch payload to orbit as soon as the spacecraft achieves multiple orbital launches. SpaceX is expected to first deploy fleets of Starlink satellites to ensure the spacecraft is reliable to deploy payload. Starship is capable of launching over 100 tons of cargo to low Earth orbit and can carry around 21 tons of payload to geostationary transfer orbit. The Superbird-9 satellite will be launched into geosynchronous transfer orbit.
SKY Perfect JSAT booked the Starship flight for 2024, the cost for the launch was not revealed. The communications company operates a fleet of 16 satellites, it is Japan’s only provider of multi-channel paid TV broadcasting and satellite communications services. "The Superbird-9 is a fully flexible HTS (High Throughput Satellites) mounted the payload missions to be configured and combined to match end-user needs. It will deliver broadcast and broadband missions in Ku band primarily over Japan and Eastern Asia, in response to mobility and broadband demands," said SKY Perfect JSAT representatives. "[...] SKY Perfect JSAT and SpaceX will continue to work together ahead of the launch of Superbird-9 Satellite."
SpaceX also has customers lined up for crewed missions. Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa booked a Starship voyage around the moon that could happen sometime in 2023 (or 2024) if the launch system is ready by then. NASA also selected Starship to land astronauts on the lunar surface by 2025.
Featured Image Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.