Updated with June 30th’s Transporter-2 launch.

SpaceX has been launching so many Starlink missions they have become a regular occurrence on Florida’s Space Coast. With this many launches, it has become hard to keep track of all the important moments from the Starlink program. We have both a timeline of major events; and a table of every Starlink launch at the bottom of the article.

January 2015: Initial Announcement

SpaceX announces a plan for the SpaceX Seattle facility to focus on the development of a constellation of satellites for global communication. Elon touted it as “rebuilding the internet in space.” His long-term vision included providing just 10% of local internet traffic but 50% of all backbone traffic.

May 2015: FCC Filings

FCC filings reveal SpaceX has plans for two experimental satellites.

November 2016: FCC application for Satellite Constellation

FCC filing for a 4,425 satellite constellation. Which would make it the largest constellation of satellites ever built.

2017: Two Test Satellites Used in Ground testing

The first two test satellites were used in ground testing, with a launch on two new test satellites planned for 2018.

February 2018: LAUNCH! The First Flying Test Satellites – TinTin V0.1

SpaceX sent along TinTin A & B on the PAZ Falcon 9 flight as co-payloads to test ground to orbit communications.

SpaceX successfully launched the first 60 production design satellites on their first dedicated Starlink mission. The launch took place on a Falcon 9 launch from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The first 60 operation Satellites were launched from a Falcon 9 which took flight from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

On this Starlink mission, one “DarkSat” included a new anti-reflecting coating designed to cut the brightness down to nearly half. This addressed concerns from the astronomy community that feared the bright satellites would ruin their nighttime observations.

This launch included one “VisorSat” with a sunshade designed to further reduce the reflectivity of the satellites. The previous DarkSat coating was helpful but was unable to totally address the astronomy community’s concerns.

July 2020: Internal Private Beta Test Begins

SpaceX began allowing employees, their families, and some friends to get early access to the Starlink program. With a limited number of satellites in orbit, connectivity was far from reliable, but this allowed them to test communicating to many more dishes and address any problems that came to light.

October 2020: Public “Better Than Nothing” Beta Program Begins in U.S.

SpaceX set expectations low for this beta. Informing users that there will be periods with no connectivity whatsoever, and expecting speeds between 50 and 150 Mbps. Despite the intermittent connectivity, this connection was far more useful than anything SpaceX’s target customers previously had access to. With the start of the program also came the price: $499 for the initial hardware and $99/month for the service.

January 2021: Public Beta Expands to Canada and U.K.

SpaceX began expanding the same “Better Than Nothing” beta program to the U.K. and Canada. Being at a higher latitude there is a slightly higher density of satellites, meaning fewer outages.

This was an important launch for many reasons. In addition to surpassing 1,000 satellites, this was also breaking reuse records. At the time, it was the fastest turnaround time at 38 days. It was also the first 8th flight of a booster.

January 2021: LAUNCH! Polar Starlink Satellites – Transporter-1

On the Transporter-1 rideshare mission, SpaceX flew 10 operational Starlink satellites at a 97.5-degree polar orbit. These 10 satellites are also the first to have laser arrays to allow for communication between the satellites rather than just between an individual satellite and ground stations.

Currently, Starlink is being rolled out to a limited number of customers who signed up on Starlink.com. You can currently enter your service address to be informed when Starlink will become available in your area.

Mid to Late 2021:

SpaceX plans to roll out coverage to the whole United States by Mid to late 2021. With plans in place for at least 20 other countries, we can expect this expansion of the Starlink network to continue.

Starlink Launch Table

Mission Date (UTC) # of
Booster # Notable Information
Tintin v0.1 2 Feb 2018 2 B1038-2 -Test Satellites
-Deployed as rideshare to Paz satellites
Starlink v0.9 24 May 2019 60 B1049-3 -First 60 production design satellites
Starlink V1.0 L1 11 Nov 2019 60 B1048-4
Starlink V1.0 L2 7 Jan 2020 60 B1049-4 -One less reflective, DarkSat test satellite
Starlink V1.0 L3 29 Jan 2020 60 B1051-3
Starlink V1.0 L4 17 Feb 2020 60 B1056-4
Starlink V1.0 L5 18 Mar 2020 60 B1048-4
Starlink V1.0 L6 22 Apr 2020 60 B1051-4
Starlink V1.0 L7 4 Jun 2020 60 B1049-5 -One VisorSat with test Sun Shade
Starlink V1.0 L8 13 Jun 2020 58 B1059-3 -Three rideshare Planetlabs satellites
joined on rideshare
Starlink V1.0 L9 7 Aug 2020 57 B1051-5 -Two Blacksky sats joined on rideshare
-All Satellites has Sun Shade
Starlink V1.0 L10 18 Aug 2020 58 B1049-6 -Three rideshare Planetlabs satellites
joined on rideshare
Starlink V1.0 L11 3 Sep 2020 60 B1060-2
Starlink V1.0 L12 6 Oct 2020 60 B1058-3
Starlink V1.0 L13 18 Oct 2020 60 B1051-6
Starlink V1.0 L14 24 Oct 2020 60 B1060-3
Starlink V1.0 L15 25 Nov 2020 60 B1049-7
Starlink V1.0 L16 20 Jan 2021 60 B1051-8 -First 8th flight of a booster
-1000 Starlinks in Orbit
-38-day booster turnaround (record)
Transporter-1 24 Jan 2021 10 B1058-5 -First dedicated rideshare mission.
-First 10 in Polar Orbit
-First 10 with Laser Sat-Sat Communication
-560km orbit(10km higher orbit than usual)
Starlink V1.0 L18 4 Feb 2021 60 B1060-5
Starlink V1.0 L19 16 Feb 2021 60 B1059-6 -Falcon 9 booster failed to land
Starlink V1.0 L17 4 Mar 2021 60 B1049-8
Starlink V1.0 L20 11 Mar 2021 60 B1058-6
Starlink V1.0 L21 14 Mar 2021 60 B1051-9
Starlink V1.0 L22 24 Mar 2021 60 B1060-6
Starlink V1.0 L23 7 Apr 2021 60 B1058-7
Starlink V1.0 L24 29 Apr 2021 60 B1060-7
Starlink V1.0 L25 4 May 2021 60 B1049-9
Starlink V1.0 L27 9 May 2021 60 B1051-10 -First Falcon 9 booster to fly 10 times
Starlink V1.0 L26 15 May 2021 52 B1058-8
Starlink V1.0 L28 26 May 2021 60 B1063-2 -First fifth flight of a Fairing
-Final launch of first Starlink shell
Transporter-2 30 June 2021 3 B1060-8 -Second launch of Polar Starlink satellites

For more information on the Starlink program, check out our article What is Starlink?

Featured Image Credit: Glery Canas/Derek Wise for Space Explored

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