SpaceX has revolutionised the latest space race by building reusable rockets. And the Elon Musk-owned company’s ambitions do not end there. As part of its plans to beam cheap broadband internet around the world, SpaceX is set to launch a constellation of satellites into orbit.
It is thought SpaceX is preparing to this week reattempt the first crucial step toward making this plan a reality.
Elon Musk’s cutting-edge rocket company will again try to launch 60 mini satellites into low-Earth orbit.
And this is only the first for a mega-constellation of satellites dubbed Starlink by SpaceX.
Starlink was scheduled to take off last week, but strong winds in the upper atmosphere caused a one-day delay.
And SpaceX announced in a tweet on Thursday it would wait another week so the company can “update satellite software and triple-check everything again.”
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The tweet read: “Always want to do everything we can on the ground to maximise mission success, next launch opportunity in about a week.”
SpaceX’s Starlink mission is a only 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-cost internet for a significant portion of the world’s population that is not yet online.
If SpaceX is successful, the launch would mark the largest test yet for any company attempting such a project.
It could even set SpaceX up to beat out competitors like Amazon and SoftBank-backed OneWeb, which each want to form their own internet constellations.
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The project is still in its early days. Elon Musk revealed last week the satellites in the first batch will be virtually identical to the mass production iterations.
The only feature they lack is the ability to communicate with each other while in orbit.
Elon Musk said: “There is a lot of new technology here, so it’s possible that some of these satellites may not work,”, before admitting there is a “small possibility” that none will work.
SpaceX will need another six missions, he said, before Starlink can provide consistent internet coverage for small parts of the world.
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It will take 12 launches before the company can provide coverage for a significant portion of the world’s population, according to Musk.
Getting the full constellation up and running will likely cost billions of dollars, and Musk has conceded that such efforts have bankrupted others.
But when asked about SpaceX’s funding, he said the company has “sufficient capital” to carry out its plans.
He added that SpaceX’s latest funding round attracted “more interest than we were seeking.”
In April, the company sought to raise about $400 million.