In context: SpaceX has been working to get its satellite-based broadband service, Starlink, off the ground for a couple of years now. It started to finally get the ball rolling on that process in November when it secured permission to launch over 7,000 satellites to get the network up and running. Later, in February, the space company sought FCC permission to operate roughly one million ground-based “earth stations” to communicate with the network.
Now, just a few months later, SpaceX is ramping up its plans to begin launching “dozens” of test broadband satellites as early as next week.
This early test will be a crucial precursor to Starlink’s full-scale service launch, which will take place later in 2019 — assuming all goes well, anyway. As SpaceX is well aware following the recent destruction of its Crew Dragon test capsule, even the best-laid plans can be ruined due to unforeseen circumstances.
To be clear, although SpaceX’s service satellites will begin launching this year, Starlink won’t necessarily be available on a consumer basis for quite some time. The earth stations SpaceX is hoping to deploy won’t be setup until 2020 at the earliest, and Starlink will probably need a fair bit of beta testing before it launches on a wider scale.
Still, we’re looking forward to seeing how the company’s preparations work out in the coming weeks and months. As always, we’ll keep you updated if any interesting developments occur during that time frame.