Featured Image Source: Starlink Render Created By @ErcXspace via Twitter
On Saturday, January 15, SpaceX founder Elon Musk shared how many SpaceX Starlink satellites are currently operational. The company has launched approximately 1,993 Starlink satellites since 2019 atop Falcon 9 rockets. Musk revealed that only 1,469 Starlink satellites are active and “272 moving to operational orbits,” he said via Twitter. The information suggests that the company only operates around 1,800 satellites in orbit and the rest are no longer functional or in orbit. According to Astronomer Jonathan McDowell, 1,808 Starlink satellites are working out of the 1,993 deployed.
The 272 satellites that are moving into operational orbits are the ones the company most recently launched that are equipped with inter-satellite communication laser links. “Laser links activate soon,” said Musk. The Starlink satellites use their onboard ion thrusters to raise into a higher operational altitude of around 540-kilometers in low Earth orbit. Once they reach an operational altitude they will begin beaming Internet to Starlink customers. SpaceX currently provides Starlink internet to over 145,000 users across 25 countries globally. Overall, SpaceX plans to launch over 12,000 satellites within the next seven years to enable worldwide broadband coverage.
1469 Starlink satellites active— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 15, 2022
272 moving to operational orbits
Laser links activate soon