SpaceX has been launching so many Starlink missions they have become a regular occurrence on Florida’s Space Coast. With this many launches, it has become hard to keep track of all the important moments from the Starlink program. We have both a timeline of major events; and a table of every Starlink launch at the bottom of the article.
January 2015: Initial Announcement
SpaceX announces a plan for the SpaceX Seattle facility to focus on the development of a constellation of satellites for global communication. Elon touted it as “rebuilding the internet in space.” His long-term vision included providing just 10% of local internet traffic but 50% of all backbone traffic.
May 2015: FCC Filings
FCC filings reveal SpaceX has plans for two experimental satellites.
November 2016: FCC application for Satellite Constellation
FCC filing for a 4,425 satellite constellation. Which would make it the largest constellation of satellites ever built.
2017: Two Test Satellites Used in Ground testing
The first two test satellites were used in ground testing, with a launch on two new test satellites planned for 2018.
February 2018: LAUNCH! The First Flying Test Satellites – TinTin V0.1
SpaceX sent along TinTin A & B on the PAZ Falcon 9 flight as co-payloads to test ground to orbit communications.
May 2019: LAUNCH! 60 V0.9 Satellites – Starlink V0.9
SpaceX successfully launched the first 60 production design satellites on their first dedicated Starlink mission. The launch took place on a Falcon 9 launch from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
November 2019: LAUNCH! First 60 Operational V1.0 Satellites – Starlink V1.0 L1
The first 60 operation Satellites were launched from a Falcon 9 which took flight from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
January 2020: LAUNCH! Experimental DarkSat – Starlink V1.0 L2
On this Starlink mission, one “DarkSat” included a new anti-reflecting coating designed to cut the brightness down to nearly half. This addressed concerns from the astronomy community that feared the bright satellites would ruin their nighttime observations.
June 2020: LAUNCH! New VisorSat test with Sunshade – Starlink V1.0 L7
This launch included one “VisorSat” with a sunshade designed to further reduce the reflectivity of the satellites. The previous DarkSat coating was helpful but was unable to totally address the astronomy community’s concerns.
July 2020: Internal Private Beta Test Begins
SpaceX began allowing employees, their families, and some friends to get early access to the Starlink program. With a limited number of satellites in orbit, connectivity was far from reliable, but this allowed them to test communicating to many more dishes and address any problems that came to light.
October 2020: Public “Better Than Nothing” Beta Program Begins in U.S.
SpaceX set expectations low for this beta. Informing users that there will be periods with no connectivity whatsoever, and expecting speeds between 50 and 150 Mbps. Despite the intermittent connectivity, this connection was far more useful than anything SpaceX’s target customers previously had access to. With the start of the program also came the price: $499 for the initial hardware and $99/month for the service.
January 2021: Public Beta Expands to Canada and U.K.
SpaceX began expanding the same “Better Than Nothing” beta program to the U.K. and Canada. Being at a higher latitude there is a slightly higher density of satellites, meaning fewer outages.
January 2021: LAUNCH! SpaceX Surpasses 1,000 Starlink Satellites in Orbit – Starlink V1.0 L16
This was an important launch for many reasons. In addition to surpassing 1,000 satellites, this was also breaking reuse records. At the time, it was the fastest turnaround time at 38 days. It was also the first 8th flight of a booster.
January 2021: LAUNCH! Polar Starlink Satellites – Transporter-1
On the Transporter-1 rideshare mission, SpaceX flew 10 operational Starlink satellites at a 97.5-degree polar orbit. These 10 satellites are also the first to have laser arrays to allow for communication between the satellites rather than just between an individual satellite and ground stations.
May 2021: The State of Starlink Now
Currently, Starlink is being rolled out to a limited number of customers who signed up on Starlink.com. You can currently enter your service address to be informed when Starlink will become available in your area.
Mid to Late 2021:
SpaceX plans to roll out coverage to the whole United States by Mid to late 2021. With plans in place for at least 20 other countries, we can expect this expansion of the Starlink network to continue.
Starlink Launch Table
|Mission||Date (UTC)||# of |
|Booster #||Notable Information|
|Tintin v0.1||2 Feb 2018||2||B1038-2||-Test Satellites|
-Deployed as rideshare to Paz satellites
|Starlink v0.9||24 May 2019||60||B1049-3||-First 60 production design satellites|
|Starlink V1.0 L1||11 Nov 2019||60||B1048-4|
|Starlink V1.0 L2||7 Jan 2020||60||B1049-4||-One less reflective, DarkSat test satellite|
|Starlink V1.0 L3||29 Jan 2020||60||B1051-3|
|Starlink V1.0 L4||17 Feb 2020||60||B1056-4|
|Starlink V1.0 L5||18 Mar 2020||60||B1048-4|
|Starlink V1.0 L6||22 Apr 2020||60||B1051-4|
|Starlink V1.0 L7||4 Jun 2020||60||B1049-5||-One VisorSat with test Sun Shade|
|Starlink V1.0 L8||13 Jun 2020||58||B1059-3||-Three rideshare Planetlabs satellites |
joined on rideshare
|Starlink V1.0 L9||7 Aug 2020||57||B1051-5||-Two Blacksky sats joined on rideshare|
-All Satellites has Sun Shade
|Starlink V1.0 L10||18 Aug 2020||58||B1049-6||-Three rideshare Planetlabs satellites|
joined on rideshare
|Starlink V1.0 L11||3 Sep 2020||60||B1060-2|
|Starlink V1.0 L12||6 Oct 2020||60||B1058-3|
|Starlink V1.0 L13||18 Oct 2020||60||B1051-6|
|Starlink V1.0 L14||24 Oct 2020||60||B1060-3|
|Starlink V1.0 L15||25 Nov 2020||60||B1049-7|
|Starlink V1.0 L16||20 Jan 2021||60||B1051-8||-First 8th flight of a booster|
-1000 Starlinks in Orbit
-38-day booster turnaround (record)
|Transporter-1||24 Jan 2021||10||B1058-5||-First dedicated rideshare mission.|
-First 10 in Polar Orbit
-First 10 with Laser Sat-Sat Communication
-560km orbit(10km higher orbit than usual)
|Starlink V1.0 L18||4 Feb 2021||60||B1060-5|
|Starlink V1.0 L19||16 Feb 2021||60||B1059-6||-Falcon 9 booster failed to land|
|Starlink V1.0 L17||4 Mar 2021||60||B1049-8|
|Starlink V1.0 L20||11 Mar 2021||60||B1058-6|
|Starlink V1.0 L21||14 Mar 2021||60||B1051-9|
|Starlink V1.0 L22||24 Mar 2021||60||B1060-6|
|Starlink V1.0 L23||7 Apr 2021||60||B1058-7|
|Starlink V1.0 L24||29 Apr 2021||60||B1060-7|
For more information on the Starlink program, check out our article What is Starlink?
Featured Image Credit: Glery Canas/Derek Wise for Space Explored
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