Last week, SpaceX received an important regulatory approval for a significant expansion of the Starlink satellite constellation, and today the company will exercise this right: the Falcon 9 rocket will launch another group of 60 satellites into orbit. Thus, the number of Starlink vehicles in orbit will increase to 1565.
Another plan of the company for the near future is to retest the prototype of the Starship SN15 spacecraft. The fact is that SN15 was the first of four prototypes that successfully survived the landing and did not explode. SpaceX chief Elon Musk has announced that SN15 can be reused, and this is a very important moment in the Starship program, the end result of which is the launch of a Mars mission.
Reusability of the prototype will simplify and shorten the test program – SpaceX will not need to build more and more aircraft, as it did for six months, when SN8, SN9, SN10 and SN11 exploded in succession during landing. In addition, the second SN15 test flight will give SpaceX a lot of valuable data on the reusability of the interstellar spacecraft. However, SpaceX has already built a prototype SN16, and it is possible that both will be used simultaneously for various tests. This approach also works to speed up the test program.