Starlink Digital Illustration Created By: Erc X @ErcXspace via Twitter
SpaceX is building its Starlink broadband internet satellite network in low Earth orbit. To date, the aerospace company has deployed 708 satellites out of the 4,409 that will initially make-up the network. Company officials state the main focus of the network will be to connect rural areas on Earth to the internet, areas where internet access is unreliable and inaccessible. Starlink customers will receive service from space via user terminals that look like a ‘UFO on a stick’. The wireless service will be easy to install at home, just ‘plug-in and point at sky.’
The company has not made public how much the internet service will cost per month. Regarding the pricing, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell told reporters last year – “All I know is you will be far happier with the value of the Starlink service than you are with your current service. You will, for sure, get way more bandwidth for the same price, or way more bandwidth for less…You’ll be far happier with this. The value will be far greater.” Starlink customers would be supporting missions to Mars; the revenue will provide additional funding towards the development of a Starship fleet that would enable humans to live on the Red Planet.
The founder of SpaceX Elon Musk stated in March during the Satellite2020 conference, that if Starlink is successful in obtaining a percentage of users of the global telecommunications market, SpaceX could net $30 billion to $50 billion in revenue annually. During the conference, Musk was asked what his long-term vision for the Starlink network is, “The whole purpose of SpaceX is really to help make life multi-planetary... But the revenue potential of launching satellites to the space station, that taps out about $3 billion dollars a year. But I think providing broadband is more like an order of magnitude more than that, probably $30 billion a year as a rough approximation,” he said.
CNBC reports Morgan Stanley financial analysts predict SpaceX’s valuation could reach as high as $175 billion in the "most optimistic 'bull case' scenario" if the Starlink network project works out as planned. Morgan Stanley predicted in July that SpaceX will reach a $50 billion valuation in its “base case” scenario.
At the end of 2019, the rocket company had a private-market valuation of about $33 billion. SpaceX valuation increased in August this year after it successfully deployed astronauts to the International Space Station aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft in May -the company is currently valued at around $46 billion. Starlink is expected to add more value to the company by next year when SpaceX rolls-out widespread service.
With around 700 Starlink satellites already in orbit, SpaceX employees are already private beta testing the network. According to a document SpaceX submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on September 2nd, Starlink is performing well. “…Results from beta initial tests have shown both low-latency below 30 ms [milliseconds] and download speeds greater than 100 Mbps [megabits per second],” SpaceX wrote to the FCC. “As it works through these beta tests, SpaceX continues to add features to unlock the full capability of the satellites and user equipment. SpaceX continues its aggressive launch schedule […].”
The company aims to deploy at least 120 Starlink satellites per month, to rapidly increase the network’s capability and roll-out service in the northern United States and Canada before this year ends. By 2021, SpaceX hopes to provide rural areas across the world with broadband access. “For the system to be economically viable, it's really on the order of 1,000 satellites,” Musk told reporters last year, “which is obviously a lot of satellites, but it's way less than 10,000 or 12,000.” The company's current plan is to initially deploy 4,409 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit.