The Japanese company SKY Perfect JSAT announced that their new Superbird-9 would be launched using the SpaceX Starship missile. This is the first third-party contract that Maska entered into for its current Starbase launcher. This agreement shows how much SpaceX aims to replace Falcon 9 in the future, as missions of this type could easily be carried out by the company ' s current launch vehicle.
SpaceX already has plans to launch satellites using Starship, but this is the second generation of Starlink made by the company itself. However, under these conditions, it will have the task of delivering a minor cargo into orbit, which exposes it to several risks.
Airbus is responsible for the creation of Superbird-9 and will be based on the OneSat satellite platform with a mass of about 3,000 kg and will be part of a telecommunications constellation of 18 satellites.
Although Starship had not yet flown into space, that was not the only problem that SpaceX would face. The main difficulty would be to create a compartment and a mechanism capable of bringing the satellite into orbit.
In those ships that we see at Starbase, there is already an aperture and a loading and exhaust system designed exclusively for Starlink 2. These new satellites, although about 7 metres wide, are quite thin and capable of passing through a small crack made in the lower part of Starship cargo bay.
In order to launch Superbird-9 as well as other payloads, SpaceX will have to develop a new cargo compartment. This is what gives engineers a lot of headaches, as Mask himself said. The company must develop a mechanism that allows them to place the load easily in Starship and also easily release it into orbit. One possible solution would be to equip Starship with manholes similar to those used in Space Shuttle.
SKY Perfect JSAT also stated that the starship would not deliver Superbird-9 to the final geostationary orbit, but would place it in a transitional orbit, meaning that the satellite would use its own engines to reach its final orbit.
According to the characteristics declared by SpaceX, Starship will be able to place Superbird-9 directly in the operating position, but it may not be done for security reasons. Since this is one of the first missions, there may be several problems, so it will not leave debris in space for a long time when it is in lower orbit.
SpaceX could easily perform this type of mission with Falcon 9, even if it was able to restore the first stage. Instead, the Starship proposal would allow the company to test the new host.