SpaceX is deploying the world’s most advanced satellite internet constellation. The company primarily aims to serve rural and remote communities globally. The Starlink constellation will consist of launching 12,000 satellites over the next five years. To date, the company operates approximately 2,000 satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Starlink satellites are relatively small compared to other orbiting satellites, roughly the size of an office desk. The company is currently manufacturing 45 Starlink satellites and 5,000 user terminal antennas per week at its satellite development facility located in Redmond, Washington. Each satellite is equipped with a single solar array and use Krypton-powered Hall-effect thrusters for orbit raising and station keeping. “[…] We have the capacity to build up to 45 satellites per week, and we have launched up to 240 satellites in a single month," the company said, "This is an unprecedented rate of deployment for a complex space system — and reflects SpaceX’s commitment to increase broadband accessibility around the world with Starlink as soon as feasible."
Deploying satellites as quickly as possible enables the company to rapidly expand internet coverage globally. SpaceX is launching Starlink missions on a weekly basis, its latest satellite deployment was on February 25. A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, propelling a fleet of 50 internet-beaming satellites to LEO. These recently launched satellites will take a couple of weeks to reach their operational altitude of around 540-kilometers. In less than a week, the company is ready to launch the next Starlink fleet on Thursday, March 3rd. A previously-flown Falcon 9 will launch 47 Starlink (Group 4-10) satellites from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 9:35 a.m. EST. If the mission is delayed, a backup opportunity is available on Friday, March 4 at 9:10 a.m. EST. You can watch a Live broadcast of this mission in the video linked below.
The Starlink constellation currently provides internet to at least 29 countries, including: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, United States, and United Kingdom. Most recently, SpaceX connected the Kingdom of Tonga, Fiji, and nearby Islands that were affected by the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano, to the Starlink network. SpaceX founder Elon Musk donated 50 Starlink dish terminals to connect the island villages while their undersea fiber-optic internet infrastructure gets fixed.
The people of Tonga were recently connected with Starlink pic.twitter.com/TfWdvnG688— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 25, 2022
Musk also provided Starlink service to Ukraine communities amid the war Russia started around a week ago. The company sent a truck filled with Starlink terminals for emergency response teams to be able to communicate in order to defend civilians if internet communication services are destroyed or intentionally shutdown by Russian forces. Starlink will remain unaffected if internet shuts down, enabling the people to continue sharing what is happening in their country to the rest of the world.
You are most welcome— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 28, 2022
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Featured Image Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.