Musk gets head start on Bezos launching SpaceX's own satellites

Musk gets head start on Bezos launching SpaceX's own satellites

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Elon Musk's SpaceX was due to launch 60 small satellites into low-Earth orbit on Wednesday, part of his rocket company's plan to sell Internet service beamed from space to fund his grander interplanetary ambitions.

The launch is 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-priced internet for a significant portion of the world's population that isn't yet online.

In its final form, Starlink will consist of almost 12,000 satellites - six times the number of all operational spacecraft now in orbit - in several orbital "shells".

SpaceX is launching 60 Starlink internet satellites into orbit tonight that will help increase internet access for millions of people worldwide.

SpaceX asked for and received USA market access for a constellation numbering nearly 12,000 satellites.

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". He described the payload as a "tight fit", because the internet satellites take up a lot of space in the rocket's fairing.

Elon Musk's SpaceX has made a business out of launching satellites for commercial customers, NASA and the US military. In the next six years, 4409 satellites will be launched SpaceX.

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SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell said May 7 that the company plans three to seven Starlink launches this year.

According to Elon Musk, the Starlink satellites that had been packed into the rocket, were not prototypes as was the case with earlier tests but rather production satellites.

In a conference call Wednesday, Musk said the satellites will deploy within an hour after launch, most likely over Tasmania.

Musk said Starlink terminals, leveraging work by SpaceX's "chip team", can switch between satellites in under a thousandth of a second, and will support a system where the overall latency is under 20 milliseconds. Currently, there are around 4,000 intact spacecraft in Earth's orbit-of which just under 2,000 are still operational.

We all know how Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, loves to break the news on Twitter.

He's far from alone in seeing dollar signs pushing a satellite-based internet service. Fundamentally, when enough satellites are in orbit, they connect to ground terminals on Earth that are generally the measure of a pizza box.

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