SpaceX next big plan to launch over 4000 satellite as to provide internet worldwide


21 Jun 2013
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Looks like SpaceX founder Elon Musk ’s big plans don’t end with colonizing Mars. In a lengthy application filed by the company on November 15 with the US’ Federal Communications Commission (FCC), SpaceX has revealed its new big plan to launch 4,425 satellites into the space, to blanket the planet with high-speed internet coverage. This application was first spotted on r/SpaceX community on Reddit .

“The system is designed to provide a wide range of broadband and communications services for residential, commercial, institutional, governmental and professional users worldwide,”

SpaceX wrote in its application. According to the FCC application, SpaceX will have a planned constellation, and each satellite in those constellations will weigh 386 kg and be roughly the size of a small car. These satellites will orbit at altitudes ranging from 1,150km to 1,275km. SpaceX claims that each of these satellite could cover an ellipse about 2,120km wide.

SpaceX’s application reveals that it the satellite launch will take place in two phases. SpaceX will start the project by first sending out 1,600 satellites at one orbital altitude, which will then be followed up by another 2,825 satellites placed in four shells at different altitudes. In total, sending out 4,425 satellites.

“With deployment of the first 800 satellites, SpaceX will be able to provide widespread US and international coverage for broadband services,” SpaceX wrote in the application. “Once fully optimised through the Final Deployment, the system will be able to provide high bandwidth (up to 1 Gbps per user), low latency broadband services for consumers and businesses in the US and globally.”

Interestingly, this bunch of satellites from SpaceX, will be bigger than all the active satellites in space put together. According to a database compiled by the Union of Concerned Scientists, there are 1,419 active satellites currently orbiting Earth. There are estimates of roughly 2,600 satellites that no longer work floating in space, but even if the inactive one were factored in, SpaceX’s planned fleet would still be larger than everything already in space.

Moving on, this planned constellation by SpaceX aims to provide turbo speed internet globally, which the company has targeted at a speed of 1Gbps in the application. As compared to this target, the global average for internet speed according to Akamai’s “State of the Internet” report in late 2015, was 5.1 Mbps per user.

The application also reveals that each satellite in the SpaceX System will aim to provide aggregate downlink capacity to users ranging from 17 to 23 Gbps. Assuming an average of 20 Gbps, the 1600 satellites in the Initial Deployment would have a total aggregate capacity of 32 Tbps. SpaceX will periodically improve the satellites over the course of the multi-year deployment of the system, which may even further increase capacity. Also, the satellites will last between 5 years and 7 years and decay within a year after that.

In a similar effort to provide high speed internet in the areas of the world, which are still deprived of it, Facebook has been working on Project Aquila, that aims to use solar-powered planes to provide low-cost internet access. Aquila, is a solar-powered airplane with a wingspan of 141 feet, which is wider than a Boeing 737. Each Aquila plane can remain in the air for up to 90 days at a time, beaming internet signals to people within a 96-km diameter. Facebook last year had also planned to launch a satellite called AMOS-6 to provide internet coverage to large parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. Facebook tied up with French satellite firm Eutelsat for this purpose. Unfortunately, Facebook suffered a major setback when the satellite got destroyed during a test firing. After the incident, Facebook didn’t reveal whether it would attempt another satellite launch.
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