After Elon Musk’s space company SpaceX launched 56 new satellites for the Starlink internet system with a Falcon 9 rocket on Thursday, a total of 4,023 Starlink satellites are now in orbit.
However, SpaceX has big plans for Starlink and hopes to launch an additional 22,488 satellites to complete the system. The company is still waiting for approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch these next-generation satellites.
Since 2019, SpaceX has launched 4,340 satellites, but some have been decommissioned or had technical problems, according to Gizmodo. The company is authorized by the FCC to deploy 4,408 Ku-band satellites and 7,500 V-band satellites.
Astronomers have expressed concerns that the satellite network could pose a threat to scientific research, both for ground-based and space-based observatories. To address these concerns, SpaceX has been working on a “dielectric mirror film” that directs light away from Earth, as well as other measures to reduce the brightness of Starlink satellites.
Thursday’s mission also marks SpaceX’s 30th launch this year, putting the company on track to surpass its 61 missions from last year. However, the company is below Elon Musk’s goal of 100 launches for the year at the current rate of 88 launches.