Shotwell added that the approval request for 30,000 extra satellites didn’t necessarily mean SpaceX would build and launch them all. It needs considerably fewer satellites (about 24 launches’ worth) to cover the planet. Rather, this is overhead that would let SpaceX offer customized service for clients. Elon Musk reiterated at the roundtable that SpaceX was testing encrypted internet services for US Air Force aircraft.
As before, there’s reason for SpaceX to hurry. Amazon is also hoping to deploy broadband satellites, OneWeb is delivering its own vehicles, and Alphabet’s Loon balloons have already seen service. If SpaceX takes too long, it risks losing customers to rivals that would be more than happy to fill the gap.