There is a lot happening in space tech this year, including phone connectivity in space, commercialization of the Moon, and SpaceX being busy at work as it looks to send more humans to the Moon and eventually Mars. Even in uncertain economic times, space tech has a busy year ahead.
SpaceX flight tests are planned in the coming weeks. The launch of the 400-foot rocket Starship is the starting point for much of what SpaceX has planned, and it appears to be readying for its first full test fire. If all goes as planned, it will be the rocket’s first time reaching orbit, a journey that began in 2014, when SpaceX broke ground on the worksite near Brownsville, Texas.
- Elon Musk and SpaceX have confirmed the upcoming test.
- Originally, the test was meant to take place today, with a date of January 20th, but it was postponed for further testing.
However, despite its nearing launch, there are some hurdles the company needs to jump through. Primarily, approval to launch from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which only issued a license for the top part of the rocket previously. To launch the entire rocket, another license is needed, which the FAA will only give when it is “satisfied SpaceX meets all licensing, safety and other regulatory requirements.”
The delays have not dampened enthusiasm, though. Plenty of people are waiting for the launch, and others are eager for a trip around the moon, including Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa. NASA has also looked to SpaceX for two Starship missions to the moon.
SpaceX and others want direct-to-mobile connectivity from space. Many in the industry are trying to bring about cell phone connectivity from space, even big names like Apple and T-Mobile. Things are already in motion, with network operators on board and companies partnering to see it through.
- Apple and Globalstar are bringing SOS connectivity with the new iPhone 14, even when people are off the grid.
- T-Mobile aims to begin low-earth orbit (LEO) connectivity to life in 2023 via SpaceX.
- Amazon is also getting LEO satellites ready to go for Project Kuiper.
The purpose of the technology is to provide low-bandwidth connectivity to underserved populations around the world. It will not provide a high-speed connection, but it will be perfect for emergency calls and texts, allowing those not within reach of a cell phone tower to have options.
The moon is going commercial. National efforts have driven people to the moon in the past, but 2023 promises a new era of both national and commercial efforts as many countries and companies seek out opportunities. While the obvious include efforts from NASA and SpaceX, there are many others targeting moon landings in the upcoming year and beyond.
It is the necessary next step for certain industries. Defense, cybersecurity, and climate are all issues that bleed into space, especially when the importance of satellites is considered. Moreover, with global tension and geopolitical struggles in the mix, the budget to move things along is massive.
SpaceX is already doing work in these sectors with its government satellite program, which launches satellites used for national security needs. The tasks performed include climate change research, missile tracking, and surveillance.