Starlink, the satellite constellation project owned by SpaceX, successfully launched their first 60 satellites into space on May 23 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The 60 Starlink satellites were packed into the nose cone of one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets. Following lift-off, the rocket’s first stage booster successfully touched down on a floating platform in the sea. This is SpaceX’s 40th successful booster recovery.
SpaceX intends to establish an assembly of 12,000 satellites “developing a low latency, broadband internet system to meet the needs of consumers across the globe. Enabled by a constellation of low Earth orbit satellites, Starlink will provide fast, reliable internet to populations with little or no connectivity, including those in rural communities and places where existing services are too expensive or unreliable,” according to the project’s website.
This is the first of a number of launches before a connection can be established, as the companies owner, Elon Musk explains, “about 400 satellites are needed for ‘minor’ coverage and 800 for ‘moderate’ coverage.”
Six further launches are anticipated for 2019, carrying 60 satellites each time. SpaceX is aiming to offer service in the Northern U.S. and Canadian latitudes after just six launches. 720 satellites are planned to be launched through 2020, rapidly expanding the available population coverage.
If the FCC approved mission goes as planned, Starlink has projected annual income of between $30 billion to $50 billion, a major jump from SpaceX’s current $3 billion annually.