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Will SpaceX's Starlink start deployment by 2021?
In November 2016, SpaceX filed an application with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a license to use portions of telecommunications frequencies to communicate with a network of satellites that would bring internet coverage to every point on the planet, no matter how remote. Named Starlink (thankfully not called "Skynet"), this network would provide speeds of up to one gigabit per second (Gbps). Each satellite would have a total throughput of about 20 Gbps, utilizing a 2 GHz frequency band in the 11-15 GHz range.
But the most ambitious aspect of SpaceX's plan is the number of satellites they plan to launch: 4,425 satellites, with a potential for 7,518 satellites in orbital planes even closer to the ground. Only 1,500 satellites currently orbit Earth.
On Feb. 22, 2018 SpaceX launched two test satellites, Tintin-1 and Tintin 2, which appear to share many of the characteristics of the satellites that the plan would eventually deploy.
But will Starlink actually happen? And when? A full system as described could cost tens of billions of dollars total, and it is unclear whether the financing is in place. And there are competitive efforts by the OneWeb satellite constellation, a major Samsung effort and others. We'll ask:
By 2021, will at least ten Starlink satellites have been launched and be in orbit?
This can include the Tintins, and is aimed at whether "production level" satellites are starting to be put aloft.
Metaculus help: Predicting
Predictions are the heart of Metaculus. Predicting is how you contribute to the wisdom of the crowd, and how you earn points and build up your personal Metaculus track record.
The basics of predicting are very simple: move the slider to best match the likelihood of the outcome, and click predict. You can predict as often as you want, and you're encouraged to change your mind when new information becomes available. With tachyons you'll even be able to go back in time and backdate your prediction to maximize your points.
The displayed score is split into current points and total points. Current points show how much your prediction is worth now, whereas total points show the combined worth of all of your predictions over the lifetime of the question. The scoring details are available on the FAQ.
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Metaculus help: Community Stats
Use the community stats to get a better sense of the community consensus (or lack thereof) for this question. Sometimes people have wildly different ideas about the likely outcomes, and sometimes people are in close agreement. There are even times when the community seems very certain of uncertainty, like when everyone agrees that event is only 50% likely to happen.
When you make a prediction, check the community stats to see where you land. If your prediction is an outlier, might there be something you're overlooking that others have seen? Or do you have special insight that others are lacking? Either way, it might be a good idea to join the discussion in the comments.