the intent is approx 12000
In 2018, 4857 satellites were orbiting the earth, of which 1980 were active.
In 2019, SpaceX intends to launch four rokkits with Starlink satellites. So, an initial constellation of 180 satellites, which neatly compares to... well, the line above.
That is 2019 but SpaceX has made it clear the minimum constellation they need for “spotty service” is 800 and still have plans for that 12000 to provide coverage at the desired capability.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamiecarte ... 56ae165641
The launch will consist of the first 60 Starlink satellites, which appear to be experimental. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that “much will likely go wrong on 1st mission. Also, 6 more launches of 60 sats needed for minor coverage, 12 for moderate.” The 60 satellites will join a couple of prototypes satellites called Tintin, which launched in 2018.
“This next batch of satellites will really be a demonstration set for us to see the deployment scheme and start putting our network together,” said SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, Gwynne Shotwell, on May 7 at the Satellite 2019 conference, reports spacenews.com. “We start launching satellites for actual service later this year.”
At least a couple of years. According to Shotwell, there will be two more launches in 2019, possibly as many as six, though that depends on whether the initial 60 check-out. SpaceX needs about 800 up there to begin a spotty service, which it wants to happen by 2021, though the journey to having 12,000 up there could be a long one.
So compared to the 1980 operating satellites in 2018 by the end of 2021 the additions by SpaceX, and a few others, will likely take that total above 3000… a 50% increase in 3 years.
At 60 sats a launch that is 14 launches, plus a couple of extras being done today for the test system being launched shortly.