SpaceX to launch first satellites for Musk's Starlink internet service

SpaceX to launch first satellites for Musk's Starlink internet service

On Wednesday night in Florida (midday Thursday on our east coast), a launch window will open, and, if everything goes well, a Falcon 9 rocket will rise from the ground - escalating the satellite internet race.

The launch is a small part of what SpaceX ultimately wants to be a much grander project: a group of potentially thousands of satellites swirling over Earth that the company says could eventually make available low-priced internet for a significant portion of the world's population that isn't yet online. The project is expected to be completed by 2027 and will consist which is almost 12,000 satellites - six times the number of all operational spacecraft now in orbit.

SpaceX was meant to rocket the first 60 of almost 12,000 satellites into orbit as part of its goal to cover the world in high-speed internet.

Though the spacecraft lack intersatellite links and other features expected in later iterations, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the satellites mark the start of deployment for a constellation created to deliver internet access to unreached and underserved parts of the world.

SpaceX said operating satellites at a lower orbit (roughly 342 miles), would result in decreased latency by axing transmission time to 15 milliseconds and help limit the ongoing problem of space junk. SpaceX announced the satellites back in 2015 and has been working on them ever since.

Updates, 5:45 p.m. PT: Adds SpaceX says weather conditions are favorable; 7:50 p.m.: Adds SpaceX has scrubbed Wednesday's launch; 3:28 p.m., May 16: Adds launch details, links to webcast; 6:45 p.m.: Adds SpaceX scrubs again.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket (in center, in a horizontal position), is readied for launch on a supply mission to the International Space Station on historic launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 17, 2017. "It's extremely sparse", Musk said, according to The Verge.

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"This is the most exciting new network we've seen in a long time", Mark Handley, a computer-networking researcher at University College London who has studied Starlink, previously told Business Insider. Starlink is only authorized for operations in the United States.

SpaceX launched two prototype Starlink satellites in February 2018.

Musk said that data was out of date, and that the company's recent funding rounds have been "oversubscribed". While Wednesday's satellites will be nearly fully functional, Shotwell said the launch is really meant to test out how the large bank of satellites can be safely deployed into orbit - that is, without colliding with each other or winding up at the wrong altitude.

Nicholas Johnson, the chief scientist for Orbital Debris, said: "Any of these debris has the potential for seriously disrupting or terminating the mission of operational spacecraft in low Earth orbit".

Musk himself recognized the scale of the challenge presented by the Starlink project in a teleconference call with reporters on Wednesday: "This is very hard".

The goal is to use Starlink to relay internet traffic at close to the speed of light. "We can use the revenue from Starlink to fund Starship".

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