You start with 1 satellite but how to get the other 4 up there?
This worked for me on Classic, Ironman, Not Created Equally:
- Locate your base in Europe to get the "Expert Knowledge" 50% less cost and upkeep bonus for the Workshop you are going to build.
- Be lucky to get on the first abduction mission soon (at least 25 days until the CR - Council Report) and choose the 4 Engineers site. That will make the Workshop construction avaiable.
- Right after the mission, start building your Workshop (10 days) so that you have enough time to build Satellite Uplink (another 14 days) later.
- Be lucky and shot down your first UFO before at least 21 days left to CR. You will need money, a lot of money, so try not to blow up the whole UFO during the mission as you are going to sell that power source and flight computers soon!
- Sell all UFO stuff, alien corpses, Elerium, alloys, weapon fragments (as last resort) and order 4 satellites to be build (4 x 77 = 308). You need to place your order while at least 21 days left to CR. Check it out as it took some time for your Skyranger to get to/from the crash site.
- Be lucky and get on the Council mission before at least 15 days left to CR. Escort or pickup your package safely to get the money bonus.
- Use the money you've just earned on the mission, sell new alien corpses and weapon fragments (last resort) to build the Satellite Uplink (14 days). Yes, it needs to be build next to the existing one so that you can get the +1 uplink capacity bonus.
- Enjoy :) and don't forget to launch your satellites before the CR!
It's the best start you can get on Classic.
I took the "We Have Ways" bonus from South America with 2 of the satellites, so that I was able to get all research bonuses and perks from alien corpses and interrogations instantly! The other two I've placed over the US and Russia just because they send the most money.
With money spent on Alien Containment + instant interrogation, I can now afford to assault the alien base in second month (April) while the enemies protecting it are weak. This will further reduce the panic and by selling that alien food and other crap taken from the base, I'm going to enjoy a wealthy retirement on third month ... or better not, there's still some work that needs to be done :)
Obviously, there are drawbacks to this strategy as you are going to sell important stuff that you may (and you will) miss in the research later. But the research is only a trigger for the Storyline (that's also why you don't need to build Labs) and when and how prepared you move to the next stage is just up to you ;) Elerium, Alloys and alien corpses are not that hard to get in further missions but the boost you'll get right at the beginning will make you a real commander, like me :D