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CAPE CANAVERAL — SpaceX on Wednesday said it plans to launch thousands of satellites on Falcon 9 rockets beginning in 2019 to establish what would one day become a global broadband internet constellation.
Patricia Cooper, SpaceX's vice president of satellite government affairs, told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that the company is aiming to launch 4,425 small satellites to low Earth orbit beginning in 2019, with full deployment expected by 2024. All would launch, in phases, on Falcon 9 rockets.
"SpaceX intends to launch the system on board our Falcon 9 rocket, leveraging significant launch cost savings afforded by the first stage reusability now demonstrated with the vehicle," Cooper told senators during the broadband infrastructure meeting.
Cooper said SpaceX intends to launch one prototype satellite by the end of this year, followed by a second in the "early months of 2018."SpaceX's broadband ambitions face challenges in the satellite internet realm — connections have historically seen comparatively slow speeds and high latency. Cooper said taking advantage of technological advances and placing the custom-built constellation in low Earth orbit — closer to the ground to reduce latency — could mean speeds equivalent to terrestrial options for internet users.
And building out a space-based data service could bypass many of the issues facing consumers, businesses and other entities on the ground.
"In other words, the common challenges associated with sitting, digging trenches, laying fiber and dealing with property rights are materially alleviated through a space-based broadband network," Cooper said.
Senators on the committee heard that SpaceX intends to take a vertically-integrated approach to building the network, meaning it will be involved in design, development, production, launch, and ultimately operation of the constellation. The company also wants to market "different packages of data at different price points." The constellation is expected to be flexible, too: though the individual satellites will operate as a mesh network, some will be able to "allocate broadband resources in real time, placing capacity where it is most needed and directing energy away from areas where it might cause interference to other systems."
In 2015, Google and Fidelity poured $1 billion into SpaceX, which operates a satellite development office in Seattle.
OneWeb Satellites, which this year broke ground on a manufacturing facility at Kennedy Space Center's Exploration Park, also plans to enter the space-based broadband industry. A joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus Group, the company hopes to assemble more than 2,000 small satellites at the facility.
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I hope they figure out how to make the connection more stable by then; I've been on satellite for the last six months and it's flaky as fuck.
-------------------- Let it be seen that you are nothing. And in knowing that you are nothing... there is nothing to lose, there is nothing to gain. What can happen to you? Something can happen to the body, but it will either heal or it won't. What's the big deal? Let life knock you to bits. Let life take you apart. Let life destroy you. It will only destroy what you are not. --Jac O'keeffe
I think eventually cellular companies will replace broadband companies once they make 5g the standard everywhere. You never know though maybe cable companies will switch to fiber which would beat out any unlimited cellular 5g plan. Replacing all coaxial lines with fiber seems like the next logical step to have the fastest broadband speeds throughout the United States. I only know of Verizon FIOS and Google Fiber atm.
Ah Google Webpass already offers crazy internet speeds in some of the major cities wirelessly like speeds are anywhere from 100Mbps to 1Gbps
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