SpaceX has provided new insight into its ambitious Starlink constellation program, which aims at providing a new space-based internet system to an unprecedented area of coverage, as the first set of satellites prepare to launch into orbit.
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has revealed that the company's target amount of satellites to launch to orbit are 12,000, with the Starlink program considered economically sound after the launch of 1,000.
“For the system to be economically viable, it’s really on the order of 1,000 satellites,” Musk said.
“If we are putting a lot more satellites than that in orbit, that’s a very good thing — it means there is a lot of demand for the system.”
SpaceX's first launch with Starlink satellites is due to go ahead on 17 May, aboard the Falcon 9, with 60 satellites on board.
Moving forward, Musk confirmed that SpaceX could launch 1,000 to 2,000 satellites per year using its Falcon rockets.
“It’s a heck of a lot of launches. We will hopefully have Starship active by the time we are anywhere near 12,000 satellites,” Musk said, in reference to the company's under-development reusable launch system.
After 400 satellites are launched, or seven missions, Starlink will provide continual coverage in limited areas, while 12 launches would ensure coverage of the US.
After 24 launches, most of the world's population would be covered, while 30 launches would cover the entire planet.
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