60 Starlink Satellites housed in the fairing for launch. credit: Elon Musk/SpaceX
What’s all this mean?
Starlink is a satellite constellation operated and manufactured by SpaceX. This constellation aims to provide internet access to secluded areas around the world by forming an initial net of 12,000 satellites in three different orbits. About 1,600 will be in a 550 km orbit, 2,800 Ku and Ka band satellites in a 1,150 km orbit and about 7,500 V-band satellites will orbit the earth at an altitude of 340 km. SpaceX may increase the number of their satellites by another 30,000 (cough 42-thousand cough) at some later point. Starlink satellites are equipped with an ion thruster using krypton gas for orbit adjustments and deorbit, a star tracker navigation system, multiple high-throughput antennas, and a single solar panel. They are designed to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere at the end of their lifecycle. Current plans suggest the start of initial service in the US by early-2020.