SpaceX Builds 120 Starlink Satellites, Costs Millions Each Month

The presentation was provided to the Federal Communications Commission in late July.
Fabienne Lang

As SpaceX's Starlink mission keeps burgeoning with more and more satellites being launched up into low orbit, a few more details about the mission have been disclosed. 

In a regulatory presentation to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on July 31st, SpaceX explained its investment numbers, its future user terminal construction, as well as its manufacturing capabilities. Those satellites have to come from somewhere, after all. 


From strength to strength

The first satellite mission Starlink ever sent up only began in May 2019. After just nine months' worth of launches, and with over 500 satellites already in operation as per Teslarati, the mission has created the single largest satellite constellation ever.

That's not anywhere near the end of it, as even before the end of this year, SpaceX expects to launch more satellites during its expected five to eight more missions.

Even though these launches have been widely shared publicly, the company has remained quite close-lipped about the satellite production infrastructure it has yet to complete. 

So it comes as some surprise that the information was shared via the FCC presentation, explaining, among other factors, that the company builds 120 satellites every month in its Redmond factory in Washington. Moreover, it also disclosed the information that it invests more than $70 million per month on "developing and producing thousands of consumer user terminals."

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As per Teslarati, SpaceX's Redmond facilities offer around 150,000 square feet (14,000 square meters) of space to work with, with most likely a third of that provided towards satellite assembly. As per their calculations, that means that SpaceX could reach its first phase with roughly 4,400 satellites within three years. 

But in order to reach its second phase, with an estimated 12,000 satellites, followed by a third phase with around 40,000 satellites, SpaceX needs to up its game. 

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