Economic space travel and Mars colonization aren’t the only ambitions Elon Musk has for SpaceX. Launching a constellation of Internet-bearing satellites is another and it seems that the company is ready to get that journey started. Not that it has much time left if it wants to stay in the FCC’s good graces. The CEO shared on Twitter a view of 60 such Starlink satellites loaded snugly inside a Falcon 9 nosecone, ready for its test launch on Wednesday.
Just imagine a network 12,000 satellites flying in low Earth orbit, sending Internet connectivity to anywhere on Earth. Some might call it the beginning of Skynet but Mus and SpaceX call it the Starlink initiative. The FCC approval gave it its approval provided the company could even launch half of that number within the next six years.
SpaceX plans to launch the satellites in two groups, one with 4,409 and another with 7,518. So far, it has only launched 2 test satellites, TinTin A and TinTin B. This will be the next and so far largest batch, and Musk expects it to go wrong. He estimates that they need to launch 6 more sets of 60 satellites for minor coverage, or 12 sets to be sure really sure.
Musk and the company have been partially secretive of the details for Starlink but it is far from the only company aiming for the skies. Even Amazon, who will greatly benefit from large constellations of satellites for its AWS business, is entering the arena. Internet service providers are, of course, also game.
The enterprise isn’t without its problems. Last month, SpaceX just got an approval from the FCC to fly the satellites at an even lower orbit based on their TinTin tests. The company assures the commission, the public, and even competitors that these satellites are “demisable” and will burn up on entry, reducing the risk of hitting people and structures on the ground.