SpaceX is ready to launchJoe Marino-Bill Cantrell/UPI Photo/Newscom/Alamy By Leah CraneElon Musk’s vision of a monumental constellation of satellites is just getting started, as SpaceX is about to launch the first 60 satellites in its planned 12,000-strong fleet. The Starlink satellites are set to launch aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on 23 May from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The goal of the constellation is to provide a global broadband internet network. These satellites will be in much lower orbits than most internet satellites – all less than 1500 kilometres up, rather than about 42,000 kilometres up in geostationary orbit – enabling them to provide connections with lower latency because the signals will not have to travel as far. But in lower orbits, you need more satellites to get complete coverage of the planet, hence the huge number of satellites. Advertisement Each satellite weighs about 227 kilograms, making this the heaviest load any SpaceX rocket has ever brought into space at 13.6 tonnes. They are equipped with thrusters to move themselves around in space, and SpaceX claims that they will be able to autonomously avoid other satellites that are tracked by the US military. The plan is to continue launching 60 satellites at a time, with a total of one or two thousand satellites launching a year, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a press call. After six more launches, Starlink will have enough coverage to begin to offer connectivity to some customers, Musk said. Read more: Elon Musk’s SpaceX or a superpower: Who’ll win the new space race? SpaceX is not the only company planning a huge satellite constellation, with OneWeb and Amazon working on similar ideas. Right now there are only about 2000 functioning satellites in orbit, so some experts worry that these “megaconstellations” might start crowding space, exacerbating an already worrying space junk problem. Satellites move so fast that even a collision with something fairly small could be result in hundreds of pieces of debris hurtling through space, potentially creating a dangerous domino effect. More on these topics: satellites SpaceX