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SpaceX to push for more than 140 launches in 2024

At a Senate hearing yesterday, a SpaceX official revealed the company is aiming to achieve 144 launches in 2024, an almost 50% increase from the record-setting pace it is maintaining this year.

“This year, we’re going to attempt to fly 100 flights,” Bill Gerstenmaier, the vice president of build and flight reliability at SpaceX, said on Wednesday (Oct. 18) during a hearing of the U.S. Senate’s Subcommittee on Space and Science. “As we look to next year, we want to increase that flight rate to about 12 flights per month, or 144 flights,” he added during the hearing.

Getting to 12 launches per month will be a challenge, but not an unreasonable one. So far this year the company has routinely launched more than six times per month, but it has been pushing that rate since the summer, with it many times trying to do launches almost daily for a stretch. Often its biggest problem isn’t the company or rocket, but the weather and scheduling at Cape Canaveral, as there are others that wish to launch there.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Questioner

    Starship Delay: Watch SpaceX VP’s Chilling Reply to Sen.Cruz at Congress Hearing on Commercial Space

    Senator Ted Cruz interviewed William Gerstenmaier, Vice President of Build and Flight Reliability at SpaceX, on the challenges of commercial space activities, including regulatory approval.


    “Cruz asked Gerstenmaier about the reliability of flight-proven vehicles and hardware. Gerstenmaier said that flight-proven vehicles are more reliable because they have been tested in flight and any problems have been fixed.

    Cruz then asked Gerstenmaier about the delays in SpaceX’s second Starship launch due to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s environmental review. Gerstenmaier said that the delays are a shame because SpaceX’s hardware is ready to fly. He said that the pace of test flights should not be governed by regulation.

    Cruz then asked Gerstenmaier when the HLS (Human Landing System) will be ready. Gerstenmaier said that it is hard to say because SpaceX needs to fly at the fastest pace and test the new technology. He said that the current pace of regulation is driving the development and that it should not be the case.

    Cruz’s final question was if the delays would be acceptable if Gerstenmaier was still at NASA. Gerstenmaier said that schedule delays like this would not be acceptable at NASA.

    The conversation highlights the challenges that commercial space companies face in obtaining regulatory approval. It also shows the importance of flight testing in developing new technologies.”

  • Col Beausabre

    Musk should buy the Cape, privatize it and sell launch slots to the highest bidder. PRIVATE ENTERPRISE RULES !

  • Ray Van Dune

    What should FAA’s priority be?
    1. Making sure all new forms are filled out correctly before allowing testing of ships that may carry dozens of people a few decades from now.
    2. Making sure existing safety rules are followed for the thousands of aircraft carrying millions of people millions of miles today.

    Think carefully.

  • john D foley

    I believe the land use/launch agreement between Spacex and NASA for pads LC-39A and SLC-40 is currently limited to 70 total launches per year. Can’t recall where I read this. Spacex is currently at 53 total Kennedy: LC-39A (12) & SLC-40 (41). Obviously, this number would have to be renegotiated to increase launches from Kennedy. Of course, I could be wrong on the number, or Spacex already worked this out.

  • geoffc

    One of the bottlenecks for SpaceX is ASDS turnaround time. With only 2 ASDS barges in Florida, they need more RTLS missions, or else they are waiting on the barge to come back in, drop off a booster then back out in time.

  • Edward

    Ray Van Dune,
    Huh. I didn’t realize that the FAA was an either/or organization, that it cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. After careful thought, I realize it is a miracle that aviation has managed to advance under the FAA’s watch.

  • Mark

    The amount of time it takes for a round trip ASDS heavy payload F9 mission will limit these type of missions w/o more ASDSes and support ships in order to shorten the turnaround interval. I have often wondered why SpaceX does not use Morehead or one of the other Carolina ports as the home port for at least 1 ASDS. The 1,200 mile round trip could be shortened to < 600 miles or so theoretically doubling the number of ASDS missions. Upon reaching port, SpaceX could offload a F9 booster to the dock for later loading on a transport truck that could return the booster to the Cape for processing. Besides potentially doubling the productivity of scarce ASDS resources, it would probably be cheaper to truck a booster instead of using 2 marine assess to return them to Port Canaveral. SpaceX would have to use a barge or transport ship to do this for the SE missions since you can't truck something from the Bahamas. Provided a ship could transport multiple boosters back to the Cape, this might also prove cheaper than the current 1,200 round trip method. Bob and Doug can store 4 fairings each and are much faster than a Tug/ASDS. These could continue to return to Canaveral or off load the fairings at the same port as the boosters for trucking back to the Cape. SpaceX could do the same thing on the West coast using San Diego as a ASDS as a home port. These suggestions would eliminate the need to procure additional ASDS barges, or reduced payloads for RTLS missions until Starship is ready.

  • Edward

    SpaceX is desperate to launch its Starlink constellation. As Robert noted a few days ago, “SpaceX must launch half of this constellation, about 3,750 satellites, by November 19, 2024, and the other half no later than November 19, 2027.

    Falcon 9 can only carry about 23 of these satellites at a time, meaning more than 160 Falcon 9 launches. SpaceX had been counting upon Starship to launch the bulk of this constellation, but Starship is not likely to be available to perform many launches next year. Fortunately, Falcons have launched two or three score batches of second generation satellites, so far this year, but that still means somewhere around a hundred Starlink launches on Falcons in the first ten and a half months of next year.

    The silly rule about putting half a constellation on orbit in a certain time and filling out the rest of the constellation in another amount of time comes from practices in populating geostationary slots. A company can obtain FCC permission to broadcast from a geostationary slot, but to prevent companies from sitting on these slots and not using them, the FCC requires that the company occupy that slot within a fairly short time (four-ish? years) or else lose their license for that slot.* They did something similar for constellations, proving intent for use by populating half the constellation, then filling it in later. If a company doesn’t fill its constellation fast enough, the FCC is allowed to rescind the license.

    Amazon must launch half its Kuiper constellation by July 20, 2026. The other half must launch by July 30, 2029. that is an estimated $10 billion cost. Amazon depends upon three different launch vehicles, and considering that they have yet to fly, I wonder whether they can get half their (smaller, at 3236 total satellites) constellation on orbit in time to assure keeping their license.

    So, if SpaceX is going to get half its constellation on orbit in time, launch the manifest that it has for other customers, including OneWeb, and maybe launch some of the Kuiper satellites, then SpaceX will need to launch a whole lot of Falcons next year.

    In addition, if SpaceX is going to launch that many rockets and other American companies are going to launch their rockets — a dozen or two — then the FAA needs to be able to have its act together enough to remove its bottleneck in granting licenses.

    The latest I heard, Starlink has surpassed two million subscribers and is still increasing. If the two million are only household subscribers then annual revenues are approaching 3 billion dollars. There may be some amount of business customers, where a small business pays around $500 per month rather than the household $110. I also heard that five airlines have signed up for Starlink service on their airliners, which should increase revenue when that service begins. Ships at sea are another market that Starlink is exploring.

    If government rescinds its license for Starlink, that would not only be a blow to these customers but would adversely affect Starlink’s revenues. I do not know whether Starlink can continue with overseas customers, but those regions are regulated by foreign nations, not the FCC.
    * My recollection is that the FCC recently took the letter of the rule more seriously than the spirit of the rule, and one company that was having trouble launching a geostationary satellite that was ready for launch was being threatened with losing its license for that satellite. The spirit is that companies use their slot, which the company was truly trying to do, but the FCC was being fairly pig-headed by not taking to heart the sincere attempt to get their satellite in operation sooner, not later. Bureaucrats can be so very stupid, and the rules are set up so that truly stupid people can do a bureaucrat’s job.

  • Richard M

    I believe the land use/launch agreement between Spacex and NASA for pads LC-39A and SLC-40 is currently limited to 70 total launches per year.

    Nitpick: SLC-40 is owned by Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, not NASA. NASA only owns LC-39A and LC-39B!

  • Richard M

    One of the bottlenecks for SpaceX is ASDS turnaround time. With only 2 ASDS barges in Florida, they need more RTLS missions, or else they are waiting on the barge to come back in, drop off a booster then back out in time.

    This is an important point. There’s been a lot of speculation online that another ASDS may be acquired . . . and keen lookouts for any signs of this developing.

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