According to The Motley Fool, 2020 might be the year that Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite cluster will provide Earth with internet access. Of the approximately 42,000 satellites SpaceX plans to launch to accomplish this feat, only 800 satellites are needed in orbit to offer “moderate” internet to users.
Earlier this month, SpaceX launched 60 more satellites into orbit, bringing the company’s grand total to 175 operational internet satellites in orbit today. “Assuming SpaceX continues putting satellites in orbit at a rate of 60 satellites per launch…11 more Falcon 9-Starlink missions should suffice to surpass the 800-sat threshold for “moderate” internet coverage,” The Motley Fool reports. If the launches are successful, Starlink should be able to offer internet access by the end of June 2020.
By the end of 2020, Starlink is anticipated to have upwards of 1,500 satellites in orbit; this means that 40 percent of all operational satellites will be owned by SpaceX.
A Big Year for Profit
The Motley Fool says that 2020 is expected to be a big year financially for SpaceX and its rocket launches. Spacing out its launches helps the company “scale” their business over competitors, like United Launch Alliance, allowing it to gradually pay off its “fixed manufacturing, labor, and overhead costs over a huge number of launches, driving down the average cost of each individual launch for both itself and its customers.” As a result, SpaceX could eventually bid for larger government contracts, such as astronaut missions, and offer services to large commercial customers.
On top of that, the fast pace at which the company is launching these satellites enables it to deploy the satellites faster, and ultimately rake in profits. The Motley Fool says SpaceX “could begin reaping the 60 percent operating profit margin” it hopes to earn from providing internet access from space. Finally, the company is aiming to make as much as $22 billion in annual operating profit from its internet service by 2025.
Decision makers should consider staying tuned to the Starlink cluster’s success over the next five years to see if Musk will be successful. Regardless of whether or not he is, The Motley Fool says, “2020 is the year it all starts to happen.”