Starlink, the satellite internet division of Elon Musk's rocket company SpaceX, has launched 1,993 satellites since 2019 but only 1,469 of them are operational, the billionaire tech entrepreneur has said.
Musk also tweeted that 272 of the satellites were “moving to operational orbits”, which means they would be up and running in some time.The most recently launched satellites have inter-satellite communication laser links, which Musk said, would "activate soon".
1469 Starlink satellites active
272 moving to operational orbits
Laser links activate soon
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 15, 2022
Starlink satellites, which have to be at an altitude of 540-kilometers in low-earth orbit, use on-board ion thrusters to raise their altitude to operational level. Once they are in place, they can start beaming internet to customers.
Starlink internet accounts for 145,000 users in 25 countries. Musk has said that the company plans to launch 12,000 more satellites within the next seven years to enable broader coverage.
According to Musk, the laser satellite links ensure smooth operation and reliable internet coverage. It also enables the satellites to operate without sending data back to a ground station. Instead, the data is beamed between the satellites using laser links, enabling faster transfer speeds.
“With these space lasers, the Starlink satellites were able to transfer hundreds of gigabytes of data. Once these space lasers are fully deployed, Starlink will be one of the fastest options to transmit data all over the world,” SpaceX engineer Kate Tice told Tesmanian.Starlink is one of the many companies launching small satellites to provide broadband internet services, especially to areas where the terrestrial network is hard to set up.