Musk gets head start on Bezos launching SpaceX's own satellites
17 May, 2019, 17:12 | Author: Darnell Taylor
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. At stake is the chance to be one of the world's largest Internet providers by building the architecture in space, giving WiFi access to billions of people without it. But when asked about SpaceX's funding, he said the company has "sufficient capital" to carry out its plans.
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.
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 unsafe collisions and space debris.
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.
"Much will likely go wrong on 1st mission", he tweeted on Saturday.
"We see this as a way for SpaceX to generate revenue that can be used to develop more advanced rockets and spaceships", Musk said Wednesday.
The Federal Communications Commission initially authorized SpaceX to launch and operate a constellation of 4,425 non-geostationary orbit satellites in March of previous year, then approved an additional 7,518 in November.
"There is a lot of new technology here, so it's possible that some of these satellites may not work", Musk said.
Completing the project may cost $10 billion or more, according to Gwynne Shotwell, the president and chief operating officer of SpaceX. "This is a key stepping stone on the way toward establishing a self-sustaining city on Mars and a base on the moon".
He's far from alone in seeing dollar signs pushing a satellite-based internet service. OneWeb and Amazon are the big ones, but there are also lesser known companies, like LeoSat and Telesat. In November, the entrepreneur, frustrated with the pace at which Starlink satellites were being developed, fired at least seven people on the program's senior management team at a campus in Redmond, Washington, outside of Seattle, Reuters reported. 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. Even partial deployment of Starlink would benefit the financial sector and bring pervasive broadband internet to rural and remote areas.
Getting tens, hundreds, or thousands of satellites into space and operational "is no small feat", he said.
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