SpaceX has gone from strength to strength in its launch capabilities in Florida at the Kennedy Space Center and nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, going from 11 in 2019 to a proposed 38 in 2020. However, the Elon Musk-backed firm has no plans to halt its progress, and is aiming to launch 70 rockets from its Florida sites by 2023.
Missions will include launching the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, including upping the ante in getting 12,000 Starlink satellites into Earth’s orbit.
A draft environmental assessment published Thursday (Feb. 27) by the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation read: “This launch schedule is based on SpaceX’s anticipated need to support NASA and DoD [Department of Defense] missions, as well as commercial customers.
“In addition to its typical launch trajectories, SpaceX is proposing … to include a new Falcon 9 southern launch trajectory to support missions with payloads requiring polar orbits.
“SpaceX estimates approximately 10 percent of its annual Falcon 9 launches would fly this new southern launch trajectory.”
SpaceX has ambitious plans to launch 70 rockets a year from Florida by 2023
The FAA added: “SpaceX’s launch manifest includes more annual Falcon launches and Dragon reentries than were considered in previous analyses.”
The proposal is open to public comment until March 20, and the FAA has urged all commenters to make their remarks “as specific as possible, and address the analysis of potential environmental impacts and the adequacy of the proposed action or merits of alternatives, and any mitigation being considered.”
SpaceX has ambitious yet controversial plans to launch 12,000 satellites into Earth’s orbit as part of its Starlink project, with the aim being to supply internet to every corner of the globe.
The first of the 12,000 satellites were launched in May, 2019, and month by month Elon Musk’s firm has steadily been increasing its numbers in the skies.
READ MORE: SpaceX news: Starlink to participate in ‘massive’ live-fire exercise
Now, there are more than 300 Starlink satellites orbiting the planet, and astronomers have been none too pleased about SpaceX’s efforts, stating that they are ruining their view of the night’s sky.
A recent letter from a group of astronomers condemned SpaceX and its plans to litter the night’s sky with satellites.
The researchers state there are about 9,000 stars visible to the naked eye – but only 172 of them will be brighter than the proposed Starlink constellation.
SpaceX: Crew Dragon capsule to send tourists ‘2-3 times height of ISS’
SpaceX news: WATCH as Starlink satellite streams through night
SpaceX video: Watch Starlink satellite mission rocket miss landing
The team wrote in a paper published on the online journal arXiv: “Depending on their altitude and surface reflectivity, their contribution to the sky brightness is not negligible for professional ground based observations.
“With the huge amount of about 50,000 new artificial satellites for telecommunications planned to be launched in Medium and Low Earth Orbit, the mean density of artificial objects will be of >1 satellite for square sky degree; this will inevitably harm professional astronomical images.
“Serious concerns are common also to other wavelengths eligible for ground based investigation, in particular for radio-astronomy, whose detectors are already saturated by the ubiquitous irradiation of satellites communication from space stations as well as from the ground.”