During a call with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officials last month, SpaceX revealed that its satellite internet service, Starlink, now has about 90,000 users across 12 countries worldwide. This suggests that SpaceX was able to add about 20,000 new Starlink users in the past month alone.
Elon Musk lightly remarked in late June on Twitter that Starlink was able to pass the “strategically important” threshold of 69,420 active users. The statement was meme-worthy, but it underlined just how fast the growth of Starlink’s user base was, especially considering that the system only had about 10,000 active users in February 2021.
While the update on its current user base is impressive, SpaceX also gave the FCC an overview of the “next-generation” Starlink satellites that it plans to launch in the near future. The updated Starlink satellites would be a step up from their predecessors, boasting faster speeds, lower latency, and more backhaul capacity. This should allow the system to provide internet service to more users across the globe.
SpaceX also highlighted that it plans to use its next-generation spacecraft for its Starlink launches in the future. To date, the company has been launching batches of 60 Starlink satellites using its tried and tested workhorse, the Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX’s leadership, however, has stated that the company would be using Starship to launch Starlink satellites in the future. Utilizing Starship could pave the way for batches of up to 400 satellites to be sent to orbit in one launch.
With Starship still being in development, however, Starlink launches in the near term would likely still be accomplished using Falcon 9 rockets. It should be noted that Starlink is already the world’s most extensive satellite constellation to date, with over 1,700 satellites in orbit.
Starlink is a capital-intensive project, but it could serve as a pillar of SpaceX’s business in the future. By providing web access to places that are typically out of reach by conventional internet systems, Starlink could effectively help connect the world and disrupt the ISP industry. Consumer interest seems notable, especially as SpaceX has noted that it has received over half a million pre-orders for the satellite internet system worldwide.
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