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Home / Science / SpaceX builds nearly 1500 Starlink satellites each year

SpaceX builds nearly 1500 Starlink satellites each year



SpaceX revealed a few key details about its growing constellation Starlink satellite internet in a recent regulatory presentation, covering overall investment, user terminal development, and capabilities. its spaceship production.

Having become the largest satellite constellation in the world on a factor of three or more, Starlink has more than 500 satellites active in just nine months and the company has at least 5-8 more missions. plans from now until the end of 2020. However, in order to further expand the world’s largest satellite constellation, SpaceX also needs to become the world’s largest satellite maker by at least a full intensity

Since SpaceX̵

7;s first dedicated Starlink launch in May 2019, the company has remained extremely secretive about the unprecedented efficient satellite manufacturing infrastructure it must develop. Aside from some comments from the CEO Elon Musk and occasionally found tidbits from regulatory documents or spacecraft conferences, very little is known and no photos have been released. . FCC ex parte The presentation with a few specifics was therefore surprising, revealing that SpaceX is building at least 120 Starlink satellites a month at its factory in Redmond, Washington.

A stack of 60 satellites Starlink v1.0. (Space)

Based on previous analysis of SpaceX’s Redmond facilities, the company has approximately 150,000 square feet (14,000 m ^ 2) to work with, of which a third or a half has the capacity to be dedicated to the guard assembly line. crystal. Despite its relatively small facilities, SpaceX says it is actively building 120 satellites per month – equivalent to at least 1440 spacecraft annually. By volume, that means SpaceX is rolling out more 30 tons (~ 69,000 lb) satellites per month, a figure that is almost certainly unprecedented in the history of satellite manufacturing.

Animation of the satellite constellation Starlink of SpaceX. (Space)

Maintain for 12 months, equivalent to ~ 360 tons (10% heavier than the fuel-filled Falcon 9 V1.0 rocket) of satellites produced annually. In short, with an extremely small (and thus efficient) operating facility, SpaceX regularly produces a large number of satellites – enough to sustain indefinitely two full Starlink launches per month. At that rate, SpaceX could easily complete the first ~ 4400 satellite phase of the constellation Starlink in just three years.

The production capacity or efficiency will need to expand significantly for SpaceX to complete the second phase (~ 12,000 satellites) and the third stage (~ 40,000 satellites) of the constellation Starlink, however, until then The first phase is likely to generate significant, positive revenue allowing SpaceX to finance future growth on its own or at least significantly reduce the need for fundraising.

Only a few of the eight Starlink launches that SpaceX completed in 2020 alone. (Space)

Along with those lines, the same old FCC presentation included a note that “SpaceX has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Starlink so far,” including “more than $ 70 million in development and manufacturing. thousand of user terminals per month. ” In other words, SpaceX clearly spent less – and possibly much less – under $ 1 billion designing, manufacturing, and launching close to 600 satellites. By comparison, competitor OneWeb clearly spent more than $ 3.4 billion and filed for bankruptcy before it launched even 100 satellites.

As CEO Elon Musk has noted several times, hopes to make Starlink the first low-Earth (LEO) satellite constellation in history. Not Bankrupt. The company hopes to begin rolling out a much wider Starlink beta test following its 14th v1.0 satellite launch – four now left. If all goes well during that beta test, Starlink could become the first internet constellation LEO in history to start generating significant revenue not long after.

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