Starlink satellites are launched in batches of 60. They are released from the launch vehicle, and then have to spread out – not only into equidistant slots along a single orbit ring, but now apparently into separate orbit rings (72 rings of 22 satellites).

Since this is rocket science and fuel is precious I imagine there is some clever maneuvering to get the satellites from what is essentially a single point of release into these widespread orbits with minimal fuel consumption. So how do they do it?

(All I've been able to find so far is this answer which notes that the fairing carrying each batch increases its spin rate as each satellite is deployed, which imparts some momentum. I'd be curious as to how much of that contributes to the energy needed to get each satellite to its final orbit and slot.)


1 Answer 1


Each satellite has an ion engine, it uses the engine to adjust its location to maintain the proper phasing. Starlink satellites are actually released in a lower than nominal orbit, they thrust to raise themselves up to the orbit, and by adjusting the times they do the thrust they can spread out quite easily.


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