SpaceX's application for approval to test a satellite internet service from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is one of 12 made to the USA regulators, highlighting the extent of the potential competition. Smaller satellites are crucial to lowering the cost of space-based Internet and communications.
But, there have been several hurdles along the way.
The two test satellites are a secondary payload on a launch planned for Saturday, the primary goal of which is to put an imaging satellite into orbit for the Spanish government, according to reports and filings with the FCC.
The Falcon 9 rocket is now scheduled for a 6:17 a.m. launch time on Saturday, Feb. 17.
Just last fall, the FCC said it would delay the project over concerns that the network could interfere with competing systems.
In addition to the primary payload, multiple smaller secondary satellites also will hitch a ride aboard the Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Called Falcon Heavy, it became the most powerful operational rocket in the world. It also carried a Roadster prepared by Musk's EV company Tesla Motors. "The FCC should move quickly to facilitate these new services while underscoring our commitment to space safety", she said. And he noted that the FCC has already approved three other satellite-internet projects now development by OneWeb, Space Norway, and Telesat. SpaceX is going to try and do for satellites what we've done for rockets.
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Built on the AstroBus spacecraft architecture, the 2,646-lbs (1,200-kilogram) PAZ will be outfitted with batteries and solar cells to supply the satellite with power throughout its planned 5-year lifetime.
As per the numbers are concerned, a set of around 7,518 satellites will be fixed at around an altitude of 200 miles while the remaining 4,425 satellites will orbit the Earth at 700 miles and above. The project is part of an initiative that Musk announced back in 2014, in which he promised "unfettered" and "very low-cost" internet for the masses.
The plan hit a roadblock in September 2017 when USA regulators expressed worries it will interfere with competing systems. FCC chairman Ajit Pai has endorsed SpaceX's plan, but the full FCC has yet to vote on it. Traditional satellite internet, thanks to the distance of it geosynchronous satellites, sticks with you with a latency of over 600ms.
Over the past year, the FCC has approved applications from other companies such as OneWeb, Space Norway and Telesat to offer broadband services using satellite.
"Each launch marks the culmination of hard work and dedication of Team V", 30th Space Wing Vice Commander Col. Greg Wood said in a statement.