SpaceX is looking at mid-2020 to start offering broadband services via Starlink – a huge internet-from-space project. To get the project up and running 60 satellites must be deployed which requires 6-8 launches.
Starlink constellation will consist of thousands of satellites orbiting the Earth at low altitudes. These satellites will be used to provide internet coverage.
The Federal Communications Commission has licensed Space X to launch 12,000 satellites as part of the project and last week the company contacted the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) to request radio frequencies it needs to communicate with another 30,000 satellites. In total SpaceX intends to launch around 42,000 satellites into low orbit.
The initiative stems from the increased demand for reliable and fast internet globally, and to reach areas where connectivity has been patchy, non-existent or too expensive. SpaceX will likely be working to make Starlink Constellation scalable to meet anticipated future needs.
To date, 60 Starlink satellites have been launched by SpaceX and 3 of these failed when they reached orbit. Two further satellites were removed from orbit which indicates that the company can do this if they need to. However, the other satellites have accessed the correct orbit and are functioning normally. This was announced by Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX via the system.
The project is still very much in its infancy with a lot of work still to complete before the general public can access the internet via Starlink. As well as getting the satellites into orbit, Space X is still developing the user terminal that receives the signal from space.
The eventual roll-out may mean direct launch to customers in some areas, whereas in others it will be accessed via a telecom company. This, along with pricing, has yet to be established.
With its venture into the Starlink Constellation SpaceX moves into the realms of space technology being utilized in commerce.