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I've seen this hint in the game as well as on this site and I've been wondering if there is any specific advantage to launching satellites closer to the monthly report rather than any time during that month.

The way I see it, monthly maintenance costs are taken out during the reports (correct me if i'm wrong), so regardless of when you launch it during the month it would cost the same.

Is the benefit of holding on to them longer simply a safety net in case some countries go into the red during that time?

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4 Answers

up vote 18 down vote accepted

The effects of launching a satellite are:

  1. Immediate panic reduction in the country you launch the satellite in.
  2. Monthly income from the country you are providing satellite coverage to.

Waiting until month end to launch satellites is the most efficient way to manage panic without losing out on the funding increases from satellite coverage.

If a country is already at max panic and something happens to panic that country again, there is no effect. So by waiting, sometimes you can have a country at max panic "absorb" some panic that you would have needed to deal with if you launched the satellites earlier.

There is no funding benefit for an early launch. As long the satellite is launched before the council report at the end of the month, you get full funding from that country when the council gives its month-end report. The funding increases easily offset any maintenance costs.

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There are 2 more possible effects of launching a satellite: Benefits from covering a full continent, which take effect immediately, and prevention of Abductions (when continent is covered). –  Elbyron Nov 5 '12 at 20:51
    
So there may be some cases where you might want to launch earlier: If you're about to do some interrogating, covering South America now instead of at the end of the month may be worthwhile. Or cover Asia if about to buy expensive OTS or Foundry upgrades. Or maybe you have a covered country at level 4 panic and don't want to risk another abduction on that continent - finish off coverage of that continent now and you won't have to worry! –  Elbyron Nov 5 '12 at 20:57
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Launching a satellite instantly drops panic in a country.

Therefore, if a country is likely to leave the XCOM alliance at the end of the month, launching a satellite is a good way to keep them in. However, if they panic further between the time you launch the satellite and the end of the month, you may lose them (and any satellite benefits) anyhow.

On the other hand, if they panic further while at max panic, there's no additional penalty.

Therefore, you're better off waiting until almost the end of the month to reduce their panic level, in the hopes that the one-time panic drop "saves" a country's dedication to the alliance.

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Another point of interest: The country and continent benefits of the satellite also start from the moment the satellite is launched. So there's very little incentive to launch the satellite before the last day of the month. Also, if you're broke, you'll be able to quickly hire an interceptor with the next month's payment so the satellite doesn't get shot down. –  jprete Oct 19 '12 at 18:56
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Also worth mentioning that waiting until the last minute lets you make the most informed choice. Maybe you were going to use it on a 4-panic country, but something bad happened near the end of the month and now another country is at 5. Or maybe you were going to use it on that 5-panic country, but then a mission popped up where you were able to help that country and reduce them substantially. –  Damien Stark Oct 24 '12 at 16:24
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Adding on to the other answers:

Wasted Potential

Say you launch early in the month, there's always a chance for attacks to occur in the area you launched that you can't respond to, wasting the panic reduction granted by that satellite for the month.

Efficient Allocation of Resources

One of the main challenges of xcom is resource management. Waiting until the end of the month to launch allows you to look at the big picture before committing a 1 time use resource. Lots of things will change over the course of the month and what you planned to do initially might not work out at the end of the month.

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I believe that, even though the funding and continent bonuses are gained immediately, abductions are only prevented in countries that had a sattelite IN ORBIT at the BEGINNING of the month.

Therefore it can be beneficial to launch them just early enough so that they reach orbit before the month concludes, else that country may still see abductions until the next report.

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