SpaceX Aims To Launch Over 4,000 Broadband Satellites Starting 2019
SpaceX may soon sort out the issues that currently plague broadband internet connectivity, such as slow speeds and strict data caps. A statement from SpaceX's Patricia Cooper, vice president of satellite government affairs, indicates that the agency will soon launch 4,425 broadband satellites in space.
In November 2016, the Elon Musk-owned company sought approval from the FCC for launching the satellites.
Broadband Satellites Launch
In November 2016, SpaceX shared that it would most likely start launching these satellites in 2019. It has now been revealed that the agency would look to begin testing the satellites by 2017 end and would also launch a prototype to determine the viability of the project. Another prototype will also be launched in early 2018.
Following the test launch, if all goes well, SpaceX said that it would launch its first broadband satellite by 2019. Cooper's statement to the Senate Commerce Committee on May 3 also indicates that the company will target launching all of the 4,425 satellites by 2024.
"The remaining satellites in the constellation will be launched in phases through 2024, when the system will reach full capacity with the Ka- and Ku-Band satellites," Cooper remarked.
The company is optimistic that the system would be instrumental in providing "fiber-like" internet service speeds.
The Falcon 9 will be used in all the launches thanks to the reusability of its first stage rocket. This would help the agency reduce launch costs significantly.
The satellites would operate in varying altitudes ranging from 690 miles to around 823 miles off the Earth's surface. These satellites would need control stations back on Earth for proper functioning. Current broadband satellites like the HughesNet network operate at an altitude of around 22,000 miles by comparison.
Other SpaceX Plans Detailed In The Statement
Musk's company detailed that it would launch an additional 7,500 satellites, which would operate even closer to the surface. This move is expected to reduce latency in broadband internet services and also increase the capacity in heavily populated areas.
Cooper also shared that proper funding for national broadband projects is currently lacking and only about 1.5 percent of fund allocated to broadband is granted for bettering the internet satellite systems.
While SpaceX's plans come across as lucrative for broadband connectivity, it may be too early to really get excited about the changes the agency promises. Currently, some outdated regulations that are in place are causing certain issues for SpaceX, which the company will likely work out in the future.