SpaceX is boosting production of its Starlink high-speed broadband internet small satellites (smallsats) to keep pace with an accelerated launch cadence.
Together, the moves will ultimately bring Starlink satellite internet service to the entire planet by 2025. SpaceX eventually intends to orbit at least 42,000 Starlink smallsats in the most massive superconstellation of satellites the world has ever seen.
SpaceX confirmed the production boost to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), saying its "now building 120 satellites per month."
"To put it in perspective, Iridium, which previously held the record for the largest commercial satellite constellation, was manufacturing satellites at the rate of about six satellites per month at the peak of production," said a report from Quilty Analytics, a firm providing satellite and space financial research.
SpaceX has also invested more than $70 million developing and producing thousands of authorized user terminals (AUTs) every month. AUTs are devices consumers will use to connect to Starlink's space-based internet network.
Thus far, SpaceX has publicly admitted to investing hundreds of millions of dollars in Starlink to date. In addition, SpaceX said it's now seeing "extraordinary demand" from potential customers for its Starlink internet service.
It said "nearly 700,000 individuals" across the U.S. have indicated their interest in the company's satellite internet service. SpaceX has asked the FCC if it can increase the number of authorized AUTs to five million from one million.
From May 24, 2019 when it orbited its first 60 smallsats, SpaceX has placed 595 Starlink smallsats into low Earth orbit (LEO) in 10 successful missions.
The latest mission took place August 7, when mission v1.0 L9 blasted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida. A SpaceX Falcon 9 B5 launch vehicle lofted 57 Starlink smallsats to a LEO orbit 550 km in altitude.
Along for this ride were BlackSky Global-7 and Global-8, the fifth and sixth satellites developed by Spaceflight Industries, which is based in Virginia.
SpaceX plans to launch 170 Starlink smallsats in three launches in August, the largest number of launches in one month.
The second Starlin mission in August is scheduled for next week. SpaceX plans to launch mission v1.0 L10 that will carry 58 Starlinks into LEO. In addition, the mission will see ride sharing by three Planet Labs Earth-observation satellites: SkySats 19 to 21. SpaceX orbited the last five SkySats (SkySats 14 to 18) starting December 2018.
The last Starlink mission in August, v1.0 L11, will carry 60 smallsats into LEO. The next mission, v1.0 L12, in September will orbit the same number of satellites.