SpaceX has announced that it intends to launch 24 new Starlink satellites next year. The new additions to the company’s satellite constellation project will certainly raise concerns about the overcrowding issue in space.

Earlier this week, Gwynne Shotwell, the president and COO of SpaceX, confirmed during the World Satellite Business Conference in Paris the company’s future plans for its Starlink project.

According to Shotwell, SpaceX will launch a total of 24 new satellites next year. The company official noted that the launches will be spread out across the year, with two satellite launches each month.

Although the company would also like to launch Starlink satellites before the year ends, Shotwell said SpaceX will only be able to do so if commercial spaceflight customers drop out of their slots.

“If some customers move out, I’ll have some Starlink launches – maybe up to four Starlink launches this year – but we won’t push a customer out for that, so we will wait and see what the end of the year looks like and see what we can fit in,” she said according to Space News.

SpaceX’s Starlink project officially started on May 24 with the launch of 60 satellites. The project will be completed once the company reaches its target of launching 12,000 satellites.

SpaceX’s impressive project has been criticized by various organizations primarily due to its large scale. Critics of the company noted that the huge number of satellites that SpaceX plans to launch will only worsen the overcrowding situation in space.

This issue became very apparent earlier this month when a satellite from the European Space Agency (ESA) almost collided with a Starlink satellite. Fortunately, the ESA was able to execute maneuver procedures on time and successfully avoided a collision between the two satellites.

“The maneuver took place about ½ an orbit before the potential collision,” ESA said through a tweet.

According to ESA, they contacted SpaceX before the near-collision happened but the company did not move its satellite. According to SpaceX, it was not able to take proper action with the satellite due to an issue with the paging system of Starlink.

A SpaceX Starlink satellite
A SpaceX Starlink satellite in orbit (illustration) SpaceX