SpaceX confirmed that it would launch dozens of Starlink satellites in one go on May 15. SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, Gwynne Shotwell, said the launch would carry “dozens of satellites,” adding more prototypes to the two currently in Low Earth Orbit.
The Starlink project was launched in 2015 by Elon Musk, claiming that the constellation could provide high-speed internet access to the billions of people around the world who lack such internet access and also would generate the revenue SpaceX would need to build a city on Mars. The income from Starlink is said to figure prominently in SpaceX’s projections for its bottom line.
This next batch of satellites will be a demonstration set for us to see the deployment scheme and start putting our network together – Shotwell
A 2013 analysis found that satellite systems could reach a latency of 638 milliseconds, around 20 times slower than wired. That means that while data could download at a comparable speed to regular connections, the slow response times would make gaming and other reaction-sensitive activities sluggish.
SpaceX is targeting 18 to 21 launches for this year, not including the Starlink missions, Shotwell said. That rate is consistent with previous years – SpaceX launched 18 times in 2017 and 21 times last year, although lower than the 30 to 40 annual launches the company forecasted in 2017.