November 3, 2019
Photo Source: SpaceX
Starlink is a satellite constellation being constructed by SpaceX, to provide satellite Internet access from space.The constellation will consist of thousands of small satellites, working along with ground transceivers.
SpaceX plans as many as 24 launches next year to build out the company’s Starlink network -following up to 4 more Starlink missions before the end of this year. SpaceX already has the permission to launch 12,000 new satellites into space and they have filed the paperwork for 30,000 additional satellites to make sure that the their internet network can meet the future demand. Elon Musk, the CEO, said SpaceX will need at least 400 Starlink satellites in orbit for "minor" broadband coverage, and 800 satellites aloft for "moderate" coverage. SpaceX is waiting for approval to add 30,000 more satellites to its network, according to filings submitted to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The ITU is an agency of the United Nations responsible for assigning international radio spectrum rights and makes sure there is no interference between space-based radio transmitters.
"As demand escalates for fast, reliable internet around the world, especially for those where connectivity is non-existent, too expensive or unreliable, SpaceX is taking steps to responsibly scale Starlink’s total network capacity and data density to meet the growth in users’ anticipated needs."
Wrote a SpaceX spokesperson. SpaceX teams are actively addressing the common concerns among astronomers, so they will not operate all their satellites in the same orbital region to avoid any interference with scientific research and observation. The satellites will be distributed to multiple orbital planes at altitudes ranging from 328 to 580 kilometers.
SpaceX launched the first Starlink mission, a Falcon 9 carrying 60 satellites, on May 23, 2019 to begin the satellite constellation that will consist of thousands more. Another 60 are planned to launch next month, on board a Falcon 9 rocket which will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell told reporters at the 70th International Astronautical Congress in Washington, "We'll continue to upgrade the network until mid to late next year. We're hoping for 24 launches by the end of the year."
Recently, on Tuesday October 22, 2019, Musk used the Starlink internet to send a tweet for the first time. "Whoa, it worked!" Musk wrote in the tweet. He used a Starlink terminal in his home to send the tweet.
One day, Starlink customers will receive a box from SpaceX to access the network. "Knowing Elon, he wants everything to be beautiful. So the user terminal will be beautiful," Shotwell said.