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Starship gets its first communications satellite customer

Capitalism in space: Sky Perfect JSAT, a Japanese satellite communications company, today awarded SpaceX a launch contract using its giant Starship/Superheavy rocket to put its Superbird-9 communications satellite into orbit in 2024.

Superbird-9 will be launched by SpaceX’s Starship launch vehicle in 2024 to geosynchronous transfer orbit. SpaceX’s Starship is a fully reusable transportation system that will be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle. SKY Perfect JSAT and SpaceX will continue to work together ahead of the launch of Superbird-9 Satellite.

Sky Perfect is the first communications satellite company to choose Starship for a satellite launch. It is however the rocket’s fourth signed customer. Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa made a deal in 2018 for a flight around the Moon, while NASA chose Starship in 2021 as the manned lunar lander in its Artemis program. UPDATE: SpaceX also has a second private manned customer, Jared Isaacman, whose present deal with SpaceX calls for two Dragon flights followed by a Starship flight.

Sky Perfect is not a new company, with sixteen satellites already in orbit providing communications, broadband, and entertainment to Japan and the Far East. It likely made this deal because it got a very good launch price, with options to back out if the rocket’s on-going development gets delayed by too much. It also made the deal because it helps to solidify Starship’s future, something Sky Perfect probably sees as a win considering the significant reduction of launch costs expected from Starship/Superheavy.

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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.

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  • Col Beausabre

    It’s SUUUPPERRRBIRD! It’s everywhere! It’s everywhere!!

  • Edward

    Robert wrote: “It likely made this deal because it got a very good launch price, with options to back out if the rocket’s on-going development gets delayed by too much.

    It is too bad that we don’t know this price. It could give us an idea of the lower end to the expected operational price tag, which SpaceX has long suggested should be very good (Go to Mars for $150,000 — 100 passengers should equal $15 million for a Starship to Mars, although I suspect that was a lowballed price, for impact in its public awareness, public relations campaign).

    Somehow, I thought that Jared Isaacman already had booked a Starship flight, the first manned Starship, which would make four bookings. Did I misunderstand? Is he still in negotiations with SpaceX?

  • Edward: You are correct, Jared Isaacman’s third flight is supposed to be on Starship, so the spaceship has four customers, not three. My error.

  • Jeff Wright

    SuperHeavy might have competition.

    ESA, give ‘em EHLL

  • Edward

    Jeff Wright wrote: “SuperHeavy might have competition.

    Let’s hope so. Lack of competition kept launch prices high for six decades, reduced the demand for launches, and stifled the space economy. We can only hope that this potential competition helps to rapidly expand the space economy in the near future.

    Red Adair is said to have said: ‘I can do it fast, I can do it well, I can do it cheap. Pick two.’ When Congress designed SLS, they only chose one (do it well, launch 95 tonnes reliably). SpaceX’s Starship is intended to improve on all three: doing it fast (often, and to the customer’s schedule), doing it well (100 tonnes reliably to 500 km 98˚ Sun-sychronous orbit), and doing it cheap (rough order of magnitude $50 per pound, or $100 per Kg). Each competitor will have to improve on at least one of these abilities, and this is why SLS is not a competitor.

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