You’ve probably heard of Starlink, it was launched in 2019 by SpaceX, the company owned by Elon Musk.
Its main aim is to provide satellite internet to countries across the globe.
Of course, while 56 countries already have internet coverage offered by Starlink, the most famous use at present is within Ukraine.
Starlink was set up in Ukraine shortly after the Russians invaded.
It has proved an invaluable tool, allowing their military to maintain contact and helping businesses continue trading.
These satellites live in a low-Earth orbit, allowing people across the globe to access them.
However, not everyone is pleased with the number of Starlink satellites and the service they offer.
Let’s take a look at the key Starlink statistics and market share.
Starlink is a newcomer to the satellite market but they are quickly making up for lost time.
- 1 Key Statistics
- 2 Starlink Statistics And Market Share in 2023: Top Facts
- 2.1 1. There Are Over 4,000 Starlink Satellites In Low Earth Orbit
- 2.2 2. SpaxeX’s Falcon 9 Rocket Can Launch 60 Starlink Satellites In One Go
- 2.3 3. Starlink Currently Offers Coverage To 56 Countries
- 2.4 4. As Of December 2022 Starlink Has Over One Million Users
- 2.5 5. Starlink Internet Speeds Are Between 50-500 MBps
- 2.6 6. The Company Launched Over 900 Satellites In One Year
- 2.7 7. 73.86% Of Starlink’s Audience Is Male
- 2.8 8. Half Of Starlink Workers Are between 20-30 Years Old
- 2.9 9. There Have Been Over 2 Million Downloads Of Starlink’s App
- 2.10 10. Starlink Has A Failure Rate Of Less Than 2.5%
- 2.11 11. Starlink Is The Largest Commercial Satellite Internet Constellation
- 3 Additional Facts
- 4 The SpaceX Approach
- 5 For Rural Communities Starlink Is Vital
- 6 The Bottom Line
- 7 Sources
- There are over 4,000 starlink satellites in low earth orbit
- Spaxe x’s falcon 9 rocket can launch 60 starlink satellites in one go
- Starlink currently offers coverage to 56 countries
- As of december 2022 starlink has over one million users
- Starlink internet speeds are between 50-500 m bps
- The company launched over 900 satellites in one year
- 73.86% of starlink’s audience is male
- Half of starlink users are between 20-30 years old
- There have been over 2 million downloads of starlink’s app
- Starlink is substantially faster than any traditional provider
- Starlink is the largest commercial satellite internet constellation
Starlink launched its first 60 satellites in May 2019.
They all reached an altitude of 340 miles, allowing them to comfortably sit in a low Earth orbit.
More have since been launched, there are now over 4,000 Starlink satellites in a low Earth orbit, Starlink Has plans and permission to put 12,000 satellites into orbit.
It sounds a lot and it is.
Between the first satellite launch and November 2022 only 14,450 satellites have been put into space.
Just 6,800 of these satellites are active!
In other words, when SpaceX finishes launching its satellites, its total satellite count will be double that of all the other satellites in space.
(European Space Agency)
The Falcon 9 is designed to carry 60 Starlink satellites, each one weighs 573 pounds.
The rocket carries the satellites to their low Earth orbit and each satellite maneuvers into position with its own thrusters.
The best part is that the rocket is reusable, and has been into space multiple times with new batches of satellites.
The Falcon 9 is classified as the world’s first orbital class reusable rocket. It’s an impressive piece of kit.
The 4,000 plus Starlink satellites currently in orbit provide coverage for 56 countries.
That’s over a quarter of the number of countries on Earth.
It’s worth noting that astronomers are concerned about the level of light pollution which thye Starlink satellites will cause.
The launch of the first 60 left a surprisingly bright light in the night sky.
Once all 12,000 are launched it will make it harder to see natural constellations and there is an increased risk of satellites crashing into each other.
Starlink subscriber numbers have steadily grown for years. In February 2021 there were just 10,000 users.
By February 2022 this had risen to 100,000, and by September 2022 it crossed the 500,000 threshold.
According to SpaceX the user number surpassed one million in December 2022, by May 2023 it had reached 1,500,000.
It’s worth noting that the biggest increase in subscribers happened early in 2022, coinciding with Starlink’s release in Ukraine.
Starlink isn’t just designed to be accessible across the planet. It also has impressive performance speeds.
While Starlink is dominating the satellite internet market, it does have competition.
Unfortunately for the competition, they can’t compete with the speed of Starlink, currently leveraging 13.54 Mbps.
It has the potential to reach 500 Mbps for business users and an impressive 250 Mbps for residential users. However, the ultimate aim is speeds of 10 Gbps for everyone.
6. The Company Launched Over 900 Satellites In One Year
The initial 60 satellites launched in 2019.
After testing the number of satellites rapidly increased, 900 were launched in 2020, with a similar number being launched in 2021.
In 2021 Starlink made their services available to the public, resulting in 500,000 orders for their services.
Naturally, this allowed Starlink to launch significantly more satellites in 2022 and 2023, that’s why there are over 4,000 currently in orbit.
A recent survey showed that the majority of Starlink users are male. Just 26.38% are female.
It’s not known why this is the case.
However, it is worth noting that Starlink is struggling to keep up with demand.
In December 2023 Business Insider reported an additional 5,000 users had subscribed to Starlink during the previous two months.
That’s less than the two months before.
It’s believed part of the slowdown is the shortage of materials which has increased the production time for each product.
You should also note the majority of Starlink users are in North America, just 20% of the users are outside the US.
Eighteen percent of the twenty percent are based in Australia, New Zealand, or Europe.
That means, just 2% of users are outside of the West.
In a world where equality is important and companies are trying hard not to discriminate, it seems strange that 50% of Starlink workers are aged between 20-30 years old.
25% of employees are aged between 30-40 and 25% are older than 40.
By February 2022 Starlink officially passed two million downloads of their app.
That’s a significant leap and is attributed to the massive increase in daily downloads.
Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine there were between 1,000 and 2,000 downloads of the apps daily.
Once the war started the number of downloads increased dramatically. It became 3,000 – 5,000 a day.
Again, much of this increase is directly connected to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
For people to switch to satellite internet they need to have trust and confidence in the system.
That means minimal issues with the satellites and any other system components.
Alongside this, there are safety considerations. A satellite that can’t maintain its orbit will come back to Earth.
That could harm people and buildings.
Starlink satellites have been found to have an extremely low 2.5% failure rate, that’s when they can no longer be maneuvered while in orbit.
Of course, other events can damage satellites.
For example, in 2022 a geomagnetic storm knocked out 40 of the Starlink satellites.
It costs millions to bring them back down to Earth and launch fresh ones.
Starlink currently offers high-speed internet to approximately 60 million rural US citizens.
That’s people that may not be able to access the internet effectively without Starlink.
This changes the way in which children can learn and the information which can be accessed by adults.
The focus on rural populations has allowed Starlink to dominate the market.
Having the largest number of commercial satellites in orbit helps.
Starlink has got permission to launch 12,000 satellites. However, their ultimate intention is to launch as many as 42,000!
Each second-generation satellite has a 20m wingspan and weighs approximately 2,000 kgs.
It’s easy to see why astronomers are concerned about how many satellites will be in Earth orbit.
It’s not just an increased risk of crashes, scientists are also concerned about the effects on the planet.
SpaceX has already stated that the satellites will be replaced and upgraded every five years.
The old satellites will be brought out of orbit and allowed to burn up on re-entry.
However, the burn up process means that the satellites will release alumina, it’s a by-product of extreme heat on aluminum.
Unfortunately, alumina contributes to ozone depletion which could cause further global warming and climate change.
SpaceX also designs military satellites and is capable of launching weapons into space, allowing them to target other countries or even alien civilizations, if needed.
Of course, this would only be done if there were no other options available.
The SpaceX Approach
SpaceX has coated all second-generation satellites to help reduce light reflectivity.
This should help to address the concerns of light pollution and its effect on star-gazers.
The satellites also have uplinks which allow them to autonomously monitor each other and shift orbit patterns to avoid collisions.
At present, there is no solution to the increased level of alumina in the atmosphere.
SpaceX isn’t the only player in the satellite internet market.
However, they are growing rapidly and can be considered the predominant force.
In short, it’s quite possible that Starlink can become the only satellite internet option.
It’s even possible that Starlink can cause significant ripples in traditional cable-based internet options.
The greater the number of subscribers to Starlink the easier it will be for them to offer a high-speed service at a very low price
Starlink has proved invaluable to Ukraine where their standard internet connections were either damaged or too poor to facilitate communication in a war zone.
The donation by SpaceX and the US government has kept the internet alive in Ukraine, although it has needed upgrading several times.
A lesser-known case illustrating the importance of Starlink to rural communities is when 50 terminals were sent to the island of Tonga.
It had just suffered a large-scale volcanic eruption, the 50 terminals allowed the island to maintain communication with each other and the rest of the world.
The Bottom Line
Starlink has faced numerous obstacles in its short life.
These include the awarding of an $885.5 million grant from the FCC which was later removed, and problems with regulatory approval in India.
Despite this, Starlink is still steadily increasing its user numbers.
It has even created a water system, allowing cruise ship operators to offer a fast internet service onboard.
The Starlink statistics and market share tell us one thing. This is a company that is dominating the market and that’s not likely to change in the near future.
All you have to do is watch the market share increase as more people gain access to the service.
If you’re living rurally, you can order the Starlink kit from their website and, once you have the kit, be connected and online in no time.