When is Starlink internet coming?
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that at least 400 satellites need to be in place and operational before “minor” internet coverage can begin. The first 60 test satellites were successfully launched in May 2019. Additional launches over the next months fine tuned the equipment, with a steady launch plan settling into place by the end of 2019.
January 29, 2020 marked the fourth successful satellite launch, bringing Starlink’s running total of launched satellites to 240 (although the satellites launched in May 2019 were tests and may not be fully operational).
Additional launches are expected every month this year, with the full constellation projected to be in place within a few years. Customers in the northern half of the US and Canada may be able to sign up for Starlink by late 2020. Starlink will be poised to offer internet service to most of the world by sometime in 2021.
So how close are we to getting satellite internet service from Starlink? SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has indicated that at least 400 satellites will need to be in place before partial internet coverage can be expected. Currently, SpaceX has rocket launches scheduled regularly from now into January 2023, but near-global service is expected to begin sometime during 2021.
SpaceX Starlink satellite internet service could affect billions of people around the world who are currently without access to affordable internet. It will also affect travel, as it’ll be available on airplanes and ships.
Starlink isn’t the only company building out a satellite network in the sky: OneWeb will also be launching satellite internet service within the next year. Amazon-funded satellite provider Project Kuiper and Telesat’s LEO satellite constellation are also in the works, but both are several years behind offering service.