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Tech & Science The SpaceX plan to bring speedy broadband to the world starts now

12:37  15 may  2019
12:37  15 may  2019 Source:   cnet.com

New space race to bring satellite internet to the world

New space race to bring satellite internet to the world Anxiety has set in across the space industry ever since the world's richest man, Jeff Bezos, revealed Project Kuiper: a plan to put 3,236 satellites in orbit to provide high-speed internet across the globe. 

Yet another Elon Musk plan to shake up an entire industry could get off the ground Wednesday night when a SpaceX Falcon 9 is set to launch the first batch of satellites for the company's Starlink broadband network. SpaceX launched a pair of prototype satellites for the service last year, but

Yet another Elon Musk plan to shake up an entire industry gets off the ground Wednesday night when a SpaceX Falcon 9 launches the first batch of satellites for the company's Starlink broadband network. SpaceX launched a pair of prototype satellites for the service last year, but these are the first of

The SpaceX plan to bring speedy broadband to the world starts now © CNET

Musk has said the next generation SpaceX rockets could launch large satellites... or perhaps a number of small ones.

Yet another Elon Musk plan to shake up an entire industry gets off the ground Wednesday night when a SpaceX Falcon 9 launches the first batch of satellites for the company's Starlink broadband network.

SpaceX launched a pair of prototype satellites for the service last year, but these are the first of Starlink's "production" version small satellites. They'll be part of a constellation designed to eventually include thousands of the flying data links beaming internet access around the globe.

New space race to bring satellite internet to the world

New space race to bring satellite internet to the world Anxiety has set in across the space industry ever since the world's richest man, Jeff Bezos, revealed Project Kuiper: a plan to put 3,236 satellites in orbit to provide high-speed internet across the globe. 

How SpaceX plans to bring speedy broadband to the whole world . After a third delay, Thursday is now the day SpaceX plans to launch two small The Two test satellites for SpaceX ’s planned broadband “megaconstellation” are set for launch Wednesday, accompanying a Spanish radar

New space race to bring satellite internet to the world : Sydney-London a ' Space Race': Qantas CEO Amazon conference attendees have heard Qantas' Offering broadband internet coverage to digital deserts is also the goal of the company OneWeb, which is set to start building two satellites a day this

Earlier in the week, Musk tweeted an image of the 60 satellites all crammed into the fairing of a Falcon 9, which also had a successful test firing and is ready to launch as soon as 10:30 p.m. ET Wednesday from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Musk also cautioned that expectations for this first launch should be tempered, saying "much will likely go wrong." He added that six more launches of 60 satellites will be needed for the service to even begin to offer "minor" coverage.

Related Slideshow: Coolest images of SpaceX missions (Provided by Photo Services)

SpaceX hopes to eventually build the mega constellation up to 12,000 satellites strong. It's essentially a new approach for delivering commercial satellite internet.

Most other satellite internet services, like Viasat or HughesNet, rely on a handful of big satellites in geostationary orbit, over 22,000 miles (35,000 kilometers) above Earth.

Signals and data travel back and forth between those satellites and customers' satellite dishes, as well as larger ground stations on Earth, to bring the internet into the homes of hundreds of thousands of customers, often in rural locations with few other options.

Traveling all those thousands of miles from high orbit can cause high levels of latency when using satellite internet, as anyone who's ever Skyped over such a connection will tell you. Things like real-time video calls and gaming can become difficult when there's lag and delay in the line from data having to travel to space and back over and over again.

So the idea behind Starlink is to use satellites at a much lower orbit to cut down on all that lag time. Sounds great, but there's a catch. Because the satellites will be much closer to the surface of the Earth, they'll only be able to "see" far smaller areas, so a much greater number of them will be required to cover the whole planet.

The company's application to the Federal Communications Commission outlines its plan to begin by deploying an army of over 4,400 small satellites in low Earth orbit between 1,100 kilometers (684 miles) and 1,325 kilometers (823 miles) above us. In April, the FCC also gave the OK for over 1,500 of these satellites to orbit as low as 550 kilometers (342 miles) to reduce space junk. (The satellites will re-enter the atmosphere and burn up sooner at the end of their useful lives.) That'll also put a little more distance between Starlink and satellites from planned competing services like OneWeb, backed by Richard Branson.

SpaceX launches first 60 satellites of its internet network

SpaceX launches first 60 satellites of its internet network SpaceX on Thursday launched a rocket carrying the first 60 satellites of its "Starlink" constellation, which is intended to provide internet from space and could one day number 12,000 satellites. One of the company's Falcon 9 rockets blasted off without incident from Cape Canaveral in Florida around 10:30 pm (0230 GMT). An hour later, the rocket began to release the satellites at an altitude of 280 miles (450 kilometers). The satellites then had to separate and use their thrusters to take up their positions in a relatively low orbit of 340 miles (550 kilometers).

The first Starlink satellites are set to launch aboard a Falcon 9 on Thursday. It could be the start of a whole new way to share Elon Musk memes.

The SpaceX plan to bring speedy broadband to the world starts now © Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. starlink

Once the first 800 satellites in this constellation are up and running, that will be enough "to provide initial US and international coverage for broadband services," the company says in its FCC application. "Deployment of the remainder of that constellation will complete coverage and add capacity around the world."

But that's not all. Once its low-Earth-orbit constellation is up and working, SpaceX hopes to launch an even larger flock of satellites, 7,518 of them to be exact, at an orbit of around 340 kilometers (211 miles) in altitude.

SpaceX says this "VLEO constellation" would provide added capacity where it's needed around the world, "enabling the provision of high speed, high bandwidth, low latency broadband services that are truly competitive with terrestrial alternatives."

SpaceX isn't the only company hoping to operate a constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit. Globalstar and Iridium have operated dozens of satellites for voice services at that altitude for many years, and OneWeb already has approval for a constellation of several hundred broadband satellites. But Musk's plan is arguably more ambitious by an order of magnitude.

To make this audacious plan work, SpaceX has more emerging tech it'll include on each satellite, in the form of lasers allowing them to communicate and coordinate with each other.

The launch of the Starlink's satellites "fires the starting pistol on laser communications use in space to provide connectivity for even the most remote places on Earth," said Markus Knapek, an engineer and board member for laser communications company Mynaric.

You'll still have to wait awhile before you can connect to SpaceX's new network. Musk says the full service probably won't be up and running until the middle of the next decade, just in time for it to help fund his other audacious plans, like sending us to Mars to give Starman a space high five.

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SpaceX launches first 60 satellites of its internet network.
SpaceX on Thursday launched a rocket carrying the first 60 satellites of its "Starlink" constellation, which is intended to provide internet from space and could one day number 12,000 satellites. One of the company's Falcon 9 rockets blasted off without incident from Cape Canaveral in Florida around 10:30 pm (0230 GMT). An hour later, the rocket began to release the satellites at an altitude of 280 miles (450 kilometers). The satellites then had to separate and use their thrusters to take up their positions in a relatively low orbit of 340 miles (550 kilometers).

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