In context: Elon Musk's work over at SpaceX has borne plenty of fruit lately. Not only has the company successfully launched and tested plenty of rockets over the past couple years (with a few failures), but progress toward its satellite-based "Starlink" internet service has been rapid, too.
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell recently said the company's goal is to finalize "six to eight" Starlink launches sometime before mid-2020. Once those launches are complete, SpaceX will be ready to begin offering satellite-based internet to customers around the globe.
SpaceX has already completed one such launch successfully, so it shouldn't be too difficult to finish the rest -- provided the company doesn't run into any unexpected problems (as it often does). We don't know precisely how many satellites will actually be in space following the completion of the six to eight launches mentioned before, but Shotwell says 24 launches will lead to "global coverage."
If all goes well, those 24 launches could be finished by the end of 2020, meaning individuals around the world could pick up a personal Starlink terminal (letting them access the service) of their own in 2021. However, a lot is still up in the air (no pun intended) -- SpaceX doesn't know how much the service will cost, what sort of speeds consumers can expect to see, or how user-friendly the initial setup will be.
Still, this is exciting news nonetheless. If Starlink's development continues to proceed as planned, it could be a massive boon for the world's population; particularly those in unserved or underserved rural areas where internet options are limited, overpriced, or otherwise unreliable. In those regions, it's hard to imagine that Starlink could be much worse than what residents already have access to.
We'll let you know when (or if) Starlink becomes available for ordinary consumers, and we'll keep you updated on the service's progress up to that point.