Explaining SpaceX’s Starlink Plan To Launch 42,000 Satellites

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The internet has become a crucial aspect of everyone’s lives nowadays. The reason being, it covers all parts of life, from entertainment to study to work. There is nothing that can not be done on the internet. Plus, technology has changed the way of doing work in several ways. It has made not only everyday tasks easier but also more efficient and faster, which is the rationale behind it fitting perfectly in the busy modern-day schedules. But has anyone ever wondered about those people who have still not met with this life-changing tech? Even today, there exists a significant percentage of the population that lacks basic internet connection. There are various reasons behind this, out of which, the most prominent one is availability. While everyone is stuck with their own issues, SpaceX has thought about these people and brought up the Starlink plan. 

Starlink By SpaceX

Many people might have heard about SpaceX launching numerous satellites in space, in a recent bit of time. The number of satellites might sound fascinating. However, until they do not know SpaceX’s long term plans, knowing about these launches is nothing but a waste. These satellites launch under the project “Starlink,” which aims to construct a constellation out of it. Using this satellite constellation, SpaceX will provide satellite internet access to each part of the world. 

This satellite constellation that has over 500 units till now would not work alone. It will be accompanied by ground transceivers, making the services possible. Further, the organization plans on selling some of these satellites for scientific, military, and exploratory purposes. Let’s see some of the historical developments of this project. 

History Of Starlink 

SpaceX announced the mega constellation in early 2015. The CEO of the organization, Elon Musk, informed people that this project is launched into consideration by increasing low-cost global broadband demands that are not met by any other medium. The two major problems faced by the company in its initial phase of the project are:

  • High User-Terminal Cost: As the plan was to implement low-cost broadband globally, the cost was the primary focus of the engineers. They developed two prototypes by the year 2016. But both of them were declared inefficient due to the high user-terminal cost, as informed by the SpaceX president. 
  • Licensing Controversy: During the initial two years of the project development, SpaceX faced some issues regarding the traditional licensing spectrum’s regulatory rule. Under that, the organization was supposed to implement the entire constellation within six years of time. Their petition for a waiver of that rule was rejected a year later. After a couple of years, FCC gave a little relaxation to the project and stated that half the constellation should be set up in the given time. For the rest, the company would get some more time in their hands. 

After a lot of hustle and legal work, SpaceX finally managed to launch 540 satellites as of June 13, 2020. Following this, they plan to launch 60 satellites in every couple of weeks of the year 2020. If the work goes in the right direction, they will be able to deploy 12,000 satellites, initially, in the decided three orbital shells. 

Motive Behind Starlink

As mentioned above, SpaceX’s primary purpose behind this satellite constellation is to set up global internet services. Under this, they will cover:

  • Internet services into those areas where it is currently unavailable.
  • Better and low-cost internet services in the areas that already have the availability. 

These two motives will provide two benefits:

  • To The Future Of Internet: As the services will be available for everyone, it will change how the future of the internet would look like. Also, it will affect people’s lives and their development. So the overall condition of the world will get better after this. 
  • To The Company: Elon Musk has always been fascinated with the idea of life on Mars. His grounds for bringing up SpaceX was to make Mars transportation affordable for everyone, ultimately supporting the Mars colonization. However, the organization did not have enough funds to support the project. The company has stated that the revenue generated by selling satellite internet services would facilitate its Mars plans.

Along with these benefits, the satellite constellation would also serve as a basis to set up similar systems on Mars. 

Other Challenges 

Project Starlink is not as convenient as it sounds. Along with all the initial legal and technical difficulties, there is one more issue that the company faced recently. With the launch of hundreds of satellites, it came to astrophysicists that these units will create a problem for them. They found out that their astronomical observations were getting disrupted because of these satellites in the orbit of study. And as the company plans on launching thousands of more of them, the problem would only increase with the coming time. 

A massive number of astronomers have already signed to this appeal for saying no to the SpaceX project. Concerning the legal actions, the company has stated that they are looking up for the best available options to solve this problem. Up until now, they have used one experimental coating to reduce the albedo and one sunshade for the same purpose. However, both of them are implemented on only a few satellites. Once the organization gets sure about its effect, all their future work would be done on it. 

The accumulation of space junk due to massive satellite was another issue. But the company has plans for that as well. They tend to remove the unusable satellites within a few years to reduce the junk from the space. 

Conclusion

Showing the big picture, in short, SpaceX plans on making the earth an internet-friendly place with the Starlink project. They aim to provide low-cost internet services to everyone that already has or does not have access to it. As their plan gets successfully implemented, and they start generating positive cash flow with it, they will be investing their money in their long-awaited Mars plan. So with 42,000 satellites, SpaceX would be changing the future of the internet and the world as well. 

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