Starlink is a satellite constellation being constructed by American company SpaceX to provide satellite Internet access. The constellation will consist of thousands of mass-produced small satellites, working in combination with ground transceivers. SpaceX also plans to sell some of the satellites for military, scientific or exploratory purposes.
Starlink constellation, phase 1, first orbital shell: 72 orbits with 22 each, 1,584 satellites at 550 km altitude
As of January 2020, SpaceX has deployed 182 satellites. They plan to deploy 60 more per Falcon 9 launch, with launches as often as every two weeks after late 2019. In total, nearly 12,000 satellites will be deployed by the mid-2020s, with a possible later extension to 42,000. The initial 12,000 satellites are planned to orbit in three orbital shells: first placing approximately 1,600 in a 550-kilometer (340 mi)-altitude shell, then approximately 2,800 Ku- and Ka-band spectrum satellites at 1,150 km (710 mi) and approximately 7,500 V-band satellites at 340 km (210 mi). Commercial operation could begin in 2020.
Concerns have been raised about the long-term danger of space junk resulting from placing thousands of satellites in orbits above 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) and a possible impact on astronomy, although SpaceX is reportedly attempting to solve the issue.
The total cost of the decade-long project to design, build and deploy the constellation was estimated by SpaceX in May 2018 to be about US$10 billion. Product development began in 2015, with the first two prototype test-flight satellites launched in February 2018. A second set of test satellites and the first large deployment of a piece of the constellation occurred on 24 May 2019 (UTC) when the first 60 operational satellites were launched. The SpaceX satellite development facility in Redmond, Washington, houses the Starlink research, development, manufacturing and on-orbit control operations.
Get 2 Free Audio Books at Audible:
Become a member of Space News Pod!
Tweets by spacenewspod