SpaceX may ramp up its already-impressive launch cadence considerably next year.
SpaceX has launched 39 orbital missions so far in 2022 — about one every six days. The ever-growing tally has shattered the company’s previous record for most liftoffs in a year, 31, which was set in 2021.
But SpaceX will apparently aim even higher in 2023. Ars Technica’s Eric Berger tweeted Wednesday (opens in new tab) that he’s heard the company intends to launch 100 missions next year — a rumor that SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk soon confirmed.
“Yeah, aiming for up to 100 flights next year,” the billionaire entrepreneur said in a Wednesday tweet of his own (opens in new tab).
Related: 8 ways that SpaceX has transformed spaceflight
Many of those upcoming missions will likely launch big batches of satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink broadband constellation. After all, 25 of SpaceX’s 39 launches this year have been dedicated Starlink flights, which loft about 50 satellites into orbit at a time.
All Starlink missions to date have launched atop SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket, but that could change next year. The company is working to get its next-generation spaceflight system, a huge rocket-spaceship combo known as Starship, up and running in the near future.
Indeed, the first Starship orbital test flight may lift off in the next few months from Starbase, SpaceX’s South Texas facility. The company has recently started conducting “static fire” engine tests with Booster 7 and Ship 24, the two Starship prototype elements that will launch on that mission.
Starship is crucial to SpaceX’s plans; the fully reusable vehicle will be cost-effective enough to make Mars colonization economically feasible, Musk has said. And SpaceX will rely on the giant rocket to loft its big and bulky Starlink Version 2 satellites, which will be capable of beaming service directly to smartphones.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).