SpaceX may attempt to deploy Starlink satellites during Starship's debut orbital flight test. Starbase teams are preparing the Starship SN24 and Super Heavy Booster 7 prototypes to perform the flight this Summer. The orbital launch will originate from Starbase in Texas and end with a water landing off the coast of Hawaii. Starship SN24 features a horizontal rectangle cargo door from where satellites can be deployed to orbit which suggests SpaceX plans to test the deployment mechanism. This month, Boca Chica residents shared photos of a large payload integration machine designed to load Starlink satellites into Starship. "The new Starlink V2 satellite loading machine is being attached to Starship 24 for the first time this evening," shared a local resident via Twitter.
Caught several of these loads of Starlinks getting loaded into the payload integration box. Video of the operation on the next WAI+, so check it out.#Starbase #Starship #SpaceX— Kevin Randolph (@CosmicalChief) July 19, 2022
📸 Me for WAI Media @FelixSchlang pic.twitter.com/gmv4WQiWXS
SpaceX founder Elon Musk compared Starship's payload deployment mechanism to a candy 'PEZ' dispenser. The company recently shared a video of how Starlink satellites will be deployed, linked below. It is unknown whether SpaceX plans to deploy fully-functional Starlink satellites during Starship's first-ever orbital flight attempt or replicas. Boca Chica residents captured photos of Starlink satellites inside a hangar at the Starbase factory that were being loaded into the payload integration machine. Deploying satellites would help engineers collect data of how their design functions in orbit in order to speed up the spacecraft’s development and manufacture an improved Starship for the next flight test.
Deck from SpaceX all-hands update talk I gave last week pic.twitter.com/ApsdPjjukh— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 5, 2022
SpaceX founder Elon Musk said it is important for SpaceX to speed up Starship's development because it depends on it to launch the next-generation Starlink 2.0 satellites that will enable the company to expand high-speed internet access globally. SpaceX’s Starlink broadband constellation will consist of at least 12,000 satellites that will beam high-speed internet connection down to millions of Starlink user terminals on Earth. To date, the company has deployed around 2,800 Starlink satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
SpaceX launches batches of 53 Starlink satellites atop its partially reusable Falcon 9 [Block 5] rocket fleet. The company loads the flat satellites in a tight configuration inside the 13-meter-long by 5.2-meter-wide. "Falcon neither has the volume nor the mass [to] orbit capability required for Starlink 2.0 [V2]," said Musk earlier this year during an interview with Everyday Astronaut. "So even if we shrunk the Starlink satellite down, the total up mass of Falcon is not nearly enough to do Starlink 2.0," he explained. "We need Starship to work and fly frequently or Starlink 2.0 will be stuck on the ground," he said. The standard Starship payload fairing has a 9-meter]in outer diameter resulting in the largest usable payload volume of any current or in development launcher. Starship will be capable of launching 100 tons to LEO which will enable SpaceX to rapidly complete building the broadband constellation by doubling the amount of satellites it deploys per launch.
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.