Elon Musk’s private space company added 60 more satellites Monday to its goal of nearly 45,000 for a global internet network called Starlink.
The satellite constellation is a work-in-progress to bring internet connectivity to, well, everywhere. The first 60 were launched in May, and on Monday morning 60 more of the approximately 500-pound devices made it into orbit from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The second Starlink deployment from SpaceX’s Flacon 9 rocket (it’s a 1.2 million-pound spacecraft) was a success. There’s still more to come in 2019, and SpaceX plans to launch monthly Starlink missions in 2020. We’ll be at full network capacity in no time. Just last month, SpaceX applied for 30,000 more satellites, which you can add onto the 12,000 the U.S. Federal Communications Commission already approved.
Once the entire constellation is in low Earth orbit (just about 300 miles away) by 2027, possibly later if the bigger constellation size gets rubber-stamped, it’s expected to offer high-speed internet to anywhere on Earth. Last month SpaceX CEO Elon Musk supposedly sent a tweet using the Starlink network.
The low-orbit satellites don’t just mean fast, affordable internet connections and telecommunications achievements. Concerns about space debris, light interference, and other issues for astronomers are still up in the air. In SpaceX’s promotional materials about the Starlink mission, it claims the satellites are designed so that “95 percent of all components of this design will quickly burn in Earth’s atmosphere at the end of each satellite’s lifecycle.”