from The space race is over and SpaceX won
- By Robert X. Cringely
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently gave SpaceX permission to build Starlink -- Elon Musk's version of satellite-based broadband Internet. The FCC specifically approved launching the first 4,425 of what will eventually total 11,925 satellites in orbit. To keep this license SpaceX has to launch at least 2,213 satellites within six years. The implications of this project are mind-boggling..
Starlink is a hugely ambitious project. It isn't the first proposed Internet-in-the-sky. Back in the 1990s a Bill Gates-backed startup called Teledesic proposed to put 840 satellites in orbit to provide 10 megabit-per-second (mbps) broadband anywhere on Earth. Despite spending hundreds of millions, Teledesic was just ahead of its time, killed by a lack of cost-effective launch services. Twenty years later there are several Teledesic-like proposals, the most significant of which may be OneWeb -- variously 882 or 648 or 1972 satellites, depending who is talking, offering 50 mbps. OneWeb has raised more than $1 billion, found a launch partner in Arianespace and even broken ground on a satellite factory in Orlando, Florida.
IF Starlink is deployed, the most interesting effect will probably be on global satellite launch services rather than Internet. Right now there are just under 1300 operational satellites in orbit, yet Starlink is promising to launch at least 2,213 satellites within six years and more likely 4,425. This means launching 1-2 satellites per day.
In 2017 a total of 90 satellite launches were carried out by seven nations, which is an average of one every four days. So even the minimal Starlink system will require a massive expansion of global launch capacity, with 100 percent of that capacity coming from SpaceX, as Starlink’s owner...
for those who wonder what is Skynet:? see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skynet_(Terminator)