SpaceX Starlink Nears Initial Global Operation Scale

SpaceX is targeting Wednesday, April 22 at 3:30 p.m. EDT, or 19:30 p.m. UTC, for its seventh launch of Starlink satellites. Falcon 9 will lift off from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A backup opportunity is available on Thursday, April 23 at 3:15 p.m. EDT, or 19:15 UTC.

As of 3 April 2020, SpaceX has 358 satellites of the constellation in orbit. There are about 300 full production Starlink satellites. SpaceX is targeting service in the Northern U.S. and Canada by late 2020. SpaceX is launching 60 satellites at a time, aiming to deploy more than 1,500 of the quarter-ton spacecraft to provide near-global service by late 2021 or 2022.

420 satellites are needed for minor broadband coverage of Earth. 780 of the first ~1600 for moderate coverage.

A launch scheduled for May would provide SpaceX with 420 satellites for minor broadband coverage.

Falcon 9’s first stage previously supported Crew Dragon’s first flight to the International Space Station, launch of the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, and the fourth Starlink mission. Following stage separation, SpaceX will land Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. Falcon 9’s fairing previously supported the AMOS-17 mission.

Today’s launch coverage should start in about two hours.

SOURCES- SpaceX, Wikipedia
Written By Brian Wang,

17 thoughts on “SpaceX Starlink Nears Initial Global Operation Scale”

  1. 1.0 version of starlink don’t have sat-sat laser communication
    So they need lot of ground station to operate.
    Areas without groundstation -> no coverage

  2. There may be some details if they try selling lower latency financial data connections between distant financial centers, which could be low hanging fruit.

  3. See the HAPS alliance for more about that, but Google’s Project Loon is semi-commercialized doing that. Loon notably has no propulsion, but uses altitude adjustment to navigate high level winds to semi-passively stationkeep. There are a number of smaller startups/groups working on solar electric forever planes or even solar electric blimps for the HAPS role as well, though many are joint military related projects.

    However there have been notable HAPS flameouts as well, such as Google’s forever plane as well as Facebook’s forever plane. Google’s full size drone suffered a breakup during climb I think and they gave up shortly after. Facebook’s prototypes had mishaps at low altitude before giving up. These forever planes are slow and gossamer structured, so a bad wind gust or wind shear at the wrong time outside of cruise altitude is usually fatal.

  4. You’re right. Equatorial will take a bit longer. Most of Europe is about that latitude (Toronto is roughly in line with northern Italy). Of course, it’s not clear how narrow a band they are covering. Could just be 45 degrees to 55 degrees and cover most of Canada (population) and Northern US.

  5. Shouldn’t it be good for everywhere at roughly that latitude range? So they would cover much of Europe & the more northerly parts of Asia. It would also cover similar latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere, but that is mostly ocean

  6. They should be way above aircraft, higher means fewer needed. They would not be bright unless the air in which they buoy is also, so astronomers will be far less pissed. Even when not bright, they will be very slow, ruining fewer photos.
    And that reminds me of the dielectric mirror tubes, evacuated, for fastest possible, shortest distance but in a vac.

  7. I can see the argument here, but that many balloons might be an aircraft risk, and they’d be a lot more visible than the satellites.

    And while either is a lot faster than fiber, the balloons would only be a little faster than the satellites, because they’re in LEO.

  8. Q: would high alt balloons sending signal thru very thin air be faster than sats such as Starlink using longer path but vacuum? It clearly would take more balloons/links, but the resending of the sig is quite fast.

  9. How is this supposed to cover the Northern US & Canada without also working for much of the rest of the world?

  10. I doubt we will see the details for a while. Initial bandwidth will be allocated between ISPs and military. Sales to end users won’t happen till 2021 at the earliest. SpaceX being private won’t be obligated to report sales proceeds.

  11. So in a few months we will see if this gamble will pay off for Musk. We will also see how he will monetize StarLink.

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