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Jan 6, 2020

With Monday night launch, SpaceX to become world’s largest satellite operator

Posted by in categories: internet, satellites

If all goes to plan, this mission will be just the first of as many as 20 Starlink launches this year as SpaceX builds up a constellation of satellites in low-Earth orbit to provide global Internet service. SpaceX may begin to offer “bumpy” service by the middle of this year to some consumers.

Following this next launch, scheduled for 9:19pm ET Monday (02:19 UTC Tuesday), SpaceX will have a constellation of nearly 180 satellites in low-Earth orbit, each weighing a little more than 220kg. This will make the company simultaneously the world’s largest private satellite operator (eclipsing Planet Labs), while also being the most active private launch company.

Becoming a satellite operator has not been without its challenges for SpaceX. It has had to work closely with the Air Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron to track its Starlink satellites and ensure they do not collide with other satellites on orbit. SpaceX has also faced a backlash of criticism from astronomers and dark sky advocates who say its “trains” of satellites have polluted the sky. In response, SpaceX has said it will take steps to make the satellites less visible and disruptive to nighttime skies.

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