SpaceX Launching the First Starlink Internet Satellites
A specialized two-stage Falcon 9 rocket constructed by SpaceX will be launching the first 60 spacecraft for its Starlink satellite internet program. The 60 tightly packed satellites will be classified as “production-design” satellites according to SpaceX chief Elon Musk, and provide the basis for a “mega constellation,” designed to provide cheap internet access to people all around the world.
This internet satellite network will be capable of producing high-speed internet to anywhere on the internet. Once completed, the full Starlink network will consist of 11,943 satellites flying around the planet closer than than International Space Station, at what’s called low Earth orbit.
Musk says that Starlink will be the primary source of revenue that will be crucial in paying for SpaceX’s Mars colony aspirations. “We see this as a way for SpaceX to generate revenue that can be used to develop more and more advanced rockets and spaceships,” Musk said. “We believe we can use the revenue from Starlink to fund Starship.” Starship will be the primary launch system that will be capable of transporting as many as 100 people at a time to the moon or Mars.
SpaceX will need six more launches of 60 satellites each before it will be capable of providing a “minor coverage” internet network for Earth. A dozen launches, or about 720 satellites, will provide the basis for “moderate coverage.” At the proposed rate, Musk says that SpaceX plans to rapidly produce and deploy Starlink, sticking to a launch scale of 1,000 to 2,000 satellites per year. If adhered to, this schedule will see the majority of Starlink satellites in orbit around the Earth within two years.
The satellites will have the ability to maneuver around orbital debris in order to avoid any collision. Each satellite will have the capability of providing a terabit of connectivity, which includes speeds that are far faster than most traditional ground based internet. “This is one of the hardest engineering projects I’ve ever seen done,” Musk said. “There’s a lot of new technology on the satellite.”
Starlink will provide internet speeds comparable to fiber optic connections by creating a “blanket connection” across the electromagnetic spectrum. Musk says that this direct-to-consumer wireless connections will not replace traditional internet service providers, as Starlink will be able to provide internet access to people living in rural regions without current connections.