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> "for a useful lifetime of five to seven years"

Isn't that a relatively low lifetime for so many satellites? Doesn't that mean they'll need to make a lot of launches just to keep the fleet operational?

This plan is obviously predicated on viable first stage reuse. Estimates vary (and I'm sure even SpaceX doesn't know what the eventual number would be), but it's conceivable that their per-launch cost would be in the low double digit millions. These are also relatively small satellites, so you can pack quite a few of them on a dedicated launch, as well as sending one or more uphill as secondary payloads for launches that have useful trajectories.

Yes. They are going for a very different model compared to "traditional" comsats. Instead of launching very heavy, very expensive birds that need to last for 10-20 years (to justify the huge development and launch costs), they want to launch cheap and light satellites that can be replaced much more quickly.

As someone stated above, this all hinges on first stage reuse proving to be viable. If a customer buys a flight and they recover and reuse the booster, it's almost a "free" flight for them.

They're building a Redundant Array of Inexpensive Satellites.

Depends on how they do it. The lifetime may be low because it doesn't carry much fuel. But if it's small enough they can launch dozens at a time.

I think the idea in the first place is to lower the per unit cost. Then spending millions more for longer life doesn't make as much sense.

My best guess is that they're actually going to use the ITS first stage for this. If that's true, we may see as many as 500 of these launched in one go, with a reusable first stage.

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