Published: Tue, May 14, 2019
IT | By Lester Massey

Elon Musk shares look of SpaceX's first Internet satellites

Elon Musk shares look of SpaceX's first Internet satellites

SpaceX satellites created to beam internet coverage from space to under-served areas of the world have been revealed by Elon Musk ahead of their anticipated launch later this week.

Musk said late on Monday that a static-fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket had completed successfully, paving the way for a possible launch on Wednesday. While the 60 satellites are production design, as Spacenews reports, SpaceX's president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell last week said they were still demonstration satellites that are missing the equipment to link up as a mesh network.

U.S. regulators in April approved a plan for SpaceX to launch 4,409 Starlink satellites with 1,584 of those positioned at a low altitude of 550km.

The planned launch is part of SpaceX's multibillion-dollar Starlink project, which has been approved by the USA communications agency, to send nearly 12,000 satellites into space. He posted side-by-side photos of the Starlink craft in their fairing and his Tesla Roadster in its fairing in early 2018, before the auto took flight on the first test mission of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket.

The Falcon 9 rocket, and its fairings, are the same as that used to launch Musk's tesla roadster into space more than a year ago.

This launch comes after a California mission previous year boosted two prototype Starlink satellites to orbit, known as Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b. While the satellites will have antennas for communicating with Earth and the capability to maneuver through space, they won't be able to communicate with one another in orbit, she said.

According to Shotwell, the 60 satellites set to be launched are still prototypes. One Twitter user was quick to point out that seven launches would equal 420 satellites, a number that Musk has enjoyed.

He also addressed that there's a possibility that "much will likely go wrong on the 1st mission".

SpaceX could launch two to six more Starlink missions this year, depending on how this first flight goes, according to Space News.

It's unclear how many launches will be needed to get all the hardware up in orbit, and for now Musk only previewed 17 such missions.

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