SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has informed the world that the company’s Starlink internet constellation currently comprising a nimble set of 60 satellites has started working.

SpaceX Starlink project aims to provide low-cost broadband internet to virtually part on Earth and will be a relief to customers in terms of supposed low cost and higher speed.

This feat has come long before the system reached the critical threshold of thousands of satellites and years ahead of full functionality.

A curious Elon Musk has tested the system and it worked, per SpaceX news.

With an alert, Musk took to Twitter saying in advance he was sending a “tweet through space via Starlink satellite.” A few minutes later he replied to the tweet, saying: “Whoa, it worked!!”

Smallsats launched in May

It is creditable that the constellation of just 60 satellites has started working. In May, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket deposited the smallsats at an altitude of 400 kilometers or 250 miles.

Although Musk had said the system will not be effective until the constellation reaches 400 units and hit “significant operational capacity” with 800 satellites, his tweet suggests that Starlink has achieved functionality even with a fraction of the above numbers.

Musk expects Starlink to be “economically viable” at 1,000 units. Still, SpaceX wants to launch as many as 12,000 satellites, already sanctioned by FCC. Each satellite weighs around 500 pounds or 227 kilograms.

Given that the system can contain more, SpaceX has moved a request to the FCC to launch an additional 30,000 satellites.

StarLink service likely by mid-2020

SpaceX will start offering Starlink broadband internet service by mid-2010, according to company president Gwynne Shotwell.

Stating this at a media roundtable, Shotwell said SpaceX will offer Starlink broadband to the U.S, customers in mid-2020. The SpaceX president said eight more launches will lead to basic operational capacity.

The broadband market faces high competition and players lose market shares depending on the results of the internet speed tests by customers. They are also wooed by impressive service offers by players like Atlantic broadband.

The service will be an additive to SpaceX's main business and not a primary money-spinner.

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

Shotwell said although approval for 30,000 extra satellites has been sought. But that does not mean SpaceX will launch all. Some 24 launches will be sufficient to cover the planet.

A higher capacity will help SpaceX to offer customized services for clients. Elon Musk said at the roundtable that SpaceX is testing encrypted internet services for the US Air Force aircraft.

SpaceX also knows the groundswell of competition from rivals such as Amazon, OneWeb and Alphabet's Loon that may take away potential customers.

There are concerns as well. When SpaceX launched the first batch of Starlink satellites, a brightly lit train was visible in the sky. The deployment rattled astronomers who feared smallsat constellations will interfere with scientific observations at space and collisions also happen.