Published: Sat, May 18, 2019
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Watch Elon Musk Satellite Launch of Space X Starlink Plan

Watch Elon Musk Satellite Launch of Space X Starlink Plan

Elon Musk's SpaceX was due to launch 60 small satellites into low-Earth orbit on Wednesday, part of his rocket company's plan to sell Internet service beamed from space to fund his grander interplanetary ambitions.

Hawthorne-based SpaceX plans to try again tonight to launch the first of what could eventually be thousands of satellites created to provide space-based internet service around the globe.

SpaceX has previously estimated that its proposed Starlink array could involve as many as 12,000 satellites in varying orbits to provide global internet coverage, with the project taking at least a decade to implement. In low-Earth orbit, though, satellites blaze across the sky extremely quickly - which is why a massive "megaconstellation" is needed, so as to blanket the lower altitude and avoid service interruptions. The final Starlink constellation is planned to have around 12,000 satellites total. OneWeb also has plans to send up 900 satellites by 2021, and launched the first six in February.

If SpaceX is successful, Musk said it would be able to generate revenue that far outpaces what it earns launching satellites into space on its rockets.

Furthermore, there is concern from some quarters that the upcoming launches of large satellite batches by SpaceX-and others pursuing similar aims, such as European company OneWeb-could increase the risk of risky collisions and space debris.

SpaceX scrubbed its first Starlink satellite launch Wednesday night, and plans to try again at 10:30 p.m. Thursday from Cape Canaveral, Fla. As indicated by an examination by BroadbandNow, LEO satellite networks could possibly spare American family units more than $30 billion in internet fees per year, as well as deliver more reliable service to rural areas that don't have many options when it comes to high-speed wired internet.

According to Elon Musk, the Starlink satellites that had been packed into the rocket, were not prototypes as was the case with earlier tests but rather production satellites.

Musk said Starlink will have continual coverage of limited geographies at around 400 satellites, or seven launches including tomorrow's mission. As many as 2,000 satellites will be launched per year, he said.

This will be the second Starlink launch SpaceX has performed.

"The big issue is: Do people believe in Elon Musk's vision", Farrar said.

SpaceX's first-generation satellites won't have intersatellite links, but will be able to use ground stations as relays to "ground bounce" signals around the world, he said. The Starlink team is now led by Mark Juncosa, SpaceX's VP of vehicle engineering and an eight-year veteran of the company.

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