SpaceX is planning to launch thousands of satellites in 2019. The system aims to provide high-speed internet to the people on Earth — especially those currently without access to broadband services. Reuters/Gene BlevinsSpaceX Falcon rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, January 14, 2017. SpaceX’s plans were first revealed in a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing1 back in November 2016. However, at that time, no specific details were mentioned.
The aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company finally outlined its plans before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on Wednesday, May 3. As the committee discussed ways on how to expand access to broadband internet throughout the country, Patricia Cooper, SpaceX vice president of satellite government affairs, explained the potential contribution of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite broadband services.
“As consumer demands on speed and capacity continue to grow, disparities in access and competitive choice persist for many communities. Many consumers who have access to broadband today lack the multiplicity of choice that robust, competitive marketplaces tend to offer,” the executive said2. To remedy this, Space X revealed its plan to launch large-scale broadband satellite constellations that will provide reliable and affordable high-speed internet not only in the United States but also in areas around the world that are currently unserved by existing networks.
The constellation will consist of 4,425 satellites that will be operating in 83 orbital planes and in altitudes ranging from 1,110 km to 1,325 km. Once launched, the satellites will be monitored by ground control facilities and gateway stations, among others. The satellites will be sent to space via SpaceX’s arsenal of Falcon 9 rockets. The company plans to begin the initiative in 2019 and will continue until 2024.
But before that, Cooper said that they will be preparing to launch a prototype later this year, followed by another one in early 2018.
If these test runs prove to be successful, then SpaceX will move forward with the 2019 launch.
- ^ filing (licensing.fcc.gov)
- ^ the executive said (spaceref.com)