SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted out a picture of 60 of SpaceX's secret Starlink satellites packed into a Falcon rocket, ready to be launched this week in the first major test deployment of SpaceX's satellite-based internet intrastructure.
Starlink Satellites Ready for Launch
On Twitter this week, Elon Musk showed off 60 of SpaceX's new Starlink satellites being packed onto a Falcon rocket in advance of this week's mission to test the deployment of the satellites into low Earth orbit.
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First 60 @SpaceX Starlink satellites loaded into Falcon fairing. Tight fit. pic.twitter.com/gZq8gHg9uK— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 12, 2019
In a series of tweets, Elon Musk showed off the satellites along with a similar picture of SpaceX's Starman just prior to its launch into space last year to give the sense of scale.
Musk said that the satellites packed into the rocket were the production satellites, not prototypes like earlier tests. He also indicated that things were likely to go wrong on this first deployment, but one can only assume that later launches would go more smoothly.
Musk said that another 6 launches would be needed for minor coverage of the planned satellite network and another 6 on top of that for moderate coverage, altogether requiring 420 and 780 satellites, respectively.
Starlink Satellite-Based Internet Plans
Announced in 2015, SpaceX has been slowly developing its Starlink satellites with plans for around 12,000 total satellites in two orbital shells, operating in commercially under-utilized frequency bands of the electromagnetic spectrum. The plan is to have the satellites reachable from anywhere on the planet, extending broadband internet service to underserved parts of the globe.
SpaceX is hoping that their plans for satellite based internet will have about 40 million subscribers by 2025, bringing in $30 billion in revenue.