Elon Musk's rocket company, SpaceX, was meant to launch 60 satellites into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Wednesday.
As the network of Starlink satellites gets built up in space, most places on Earth could gain access to high-speed, low-latency, and affordable internet connections that rival the speed of those found in well-wired cities.
SpaceX shared details about its largely secretive Starlink constellation program March 15, providing updated targets for commercial service, details about satellite design and the thought process behind why the company's upper target is 12,000 satellites - about six times the number functioning in orbit for the rest of the world combined. SpaceX boss Elon Musk tweeted it would take six more launches - 360 more satellites - for "minor coverage", and a dozen more launches - 720 satellites - for "moderate coverage".
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.
When asked about SpaceX's launches, Dr Stijn Lemmens told Scientific American: "The worst case is: You launch all your satellites, you go bankrupt, and they all stay there".
The payload fairing for the first Starlink Falcon 9 mission. Liftoff is scheduled for 10 p.m. from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It will take 12 launches before the company can provide coverage for a significant portion of the world's population, according to Musk.
SpaceX has competition from other heavily funded companies. Currently, there are around 4,000 intact spacecraft in Earth's orbit-of which just under 2,000 are still operational.
With every launch, SpaceX will add about a terabit of "usable capacity", Musk said, and two to three terabits overall.
SpaceX launched two prototype Starlink satellites in February 2018. SpaceX chose krypton because it is less expensive than xenon, Musk said. Noting it is a "multi-billion dollar endeavor", he said that SpaceX has enough capital for the time being. The dismissals followed disagreements between Musk and others over the pace at which the satellites were being developed and tested, the news service said in October.
SpaceX is footing the bill for the launch, which Musk says is experimental in nature.
Musk said Starlink user terminals will also use phased array, electronically steered antennas - a technology widely considered essential for the success of low-Earth-orbit broadband constellations.
The goal is to use that network to relay internet traffic at close to the speed that light travels through a vacuum (which is about 50% faster than light can travel through glass in fiber-optic cables).
We all know how Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, loves to break the news on Twitter. Starlink revenue would also help fund a base on the moon, he said.
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