• Harrison Jones

SpaceX nears monopoly for satellites in space

When you think about satellites, you'd think it was right to assume that the majority of them are owned by governments, and organisations like NASA - The truth is, the most satellites held by a single organisation is actually Elon Musk's SpaceX.

So, why is there such a buzz around having so many space satellites?


SpaceX almost has a monopoly for satellites in space

Well, it is actually quite an appealing thing to have as a space company - When you have widespread satellite coverage, countries from all around the world will have ISPs who are reliant on satellite connection for their TV sets, broadband devices etc, by having so many space satellites, SpaceX will be able to provide superfast internet to large parts of the world, something that comes at a price through (Of course).


Recently, SpaceX launched their Falcon 9 model into space with humans for the first time in years. The satellites weren't on as many people's radar (Ha - Get it?!), so it might come as a shock to hear they have just sent out another 60 satellites in one launch sequence. In fact, SpaceX hope to have over 1,500 of their Starlink satellites sent out into orbit by late 2021/early 2022, their aim is to provide a near-global service for satellite provided superfast internet. Their target for this year is to release a beta version of their satellite broadband services by August 2020 for the US and Canada, and follow this up by expanding the beta worldwide by November 2020.


The Falcon 9 itself was launched with these 60 Starlink satellites (Another unit of the same model of course), increasing the number of satellites SpaceX has in orbit to 480. Considering that there are around 3,000 satellites in all of Earth's orbit, it wouldn't be surprising if SpaceX was to reach monopoly status in the satellite market, especially because they aim to triple their current numbers of satellites in orbit over the next 2 years.

How do these satellites work?


SpaceX nears monopoly for satellites in space

SpaceX's Starlink satellites will communicate with one another, up to four of them at a time, to deliver data to and from Earth. The data signals beam up as radio waves and the Starlink satellites will work together to deliver the data back to the recipient in a fraction of a millisecond - Well, the speed of light, which is a speed only fibre-optic connections can get close to matching.


This is the equivalent of saying speeds could hit up to 1 gigabit per second - Something that our new 5G network is also capable of (In ideal conditions).


The Starlink satellites are able to stay working in orbit for between 5-15 years, meaning the network is likely to continue to grow, until every area of the planet is essentially covered, even the most remote places like an island in the pacific, or the poles!


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