Elon Musk Now Controls Quarter Of All Active Satellites

by : Hannah Smith on :
Elon Musk Now Controls Quarter Of All Active SatellitesPA Images

As SpaceX prepares to launch its thousandth Starlink satellite this week, the company and its owner have reached another impressive new milestone.

Following their most recent launch, more than one-quarter of all active satellites currently in space are now owned and controlled by SpaceX and Elon Musk.


Satellite tracker Celestrak has calculated that following the latest SpaceX launch just over a week ago, 946 satellites forming the company’s Starlink broadband network are currently in orbit, meaning that as of right now, 27.3% of all the satellites orbiting Earth right now are operated by SpaceX.

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It’s a pretty impressive figure, and with SpaceX conducting launches far more regularly than almost any other space company, chances are that Musk’s share of space real estate will only grow and grow.

Speaking to The Independent, former astronomer Alastair Isaacs claims that data shows SpaceX currently accounts for more than one-fifth of the world’s rocket launches, with the vast majority of launches carrying their own cargo. SpaceX has also grown to become one of the main private companies used by NASA to conduct missions, the majority of which involve sending supplies and parts to the International Space Station. In 2020, SpaceX also become the first private company to launch an operational crewed mission into space, sending four astronauts to the ISS onboard its Crew Dragon capsule.

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According to documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission, SpaceX eventually wants to have as many as 40,000 Starlink satellites forming a net – or ‘constellation’ – around the whole world. At the moment, SpaceX currently sends up around 60 of its satellites at a time. That’s a lot of launches, so maybe it won’t surprise you to hear that based on its current rate, Musk could control as much as one-half of all spacecraft orbiting Earth by 2022.

And that’s not even taking into account the hundreds – and eventually thousands – of satellites belonging to other companies that will be launched into orbit on SpaceX rockets over the next few years. In a taste of what future launches could look like, the company last week sent more than 140 satellites into space, the majority of which were from customer ‘smallsat’ companies, breaking the record for the most satellites deployed in a single launch.

This customer launch model is expected to become increasingly popular over the next decade, with several companies including Virgin Orbit and RocketLab also competing for a share of the pie, which analysts have predicted could reach $18 billion in value by 2029.


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Topics: Technology, Elon Musk, Now, Satellites, Space, SpaceX, Starlink


The Independent
  1. The Independent

    Elon Musk now controls over a quarter of all active satellites