While we’re all still loving the fact Elon Musk and SpaceX have sent a Tesla playing David Bowie on a mission to Mars, it appears the entrepreneur is getting back to business which could benefit those of us left down here on Earth.
A launch planned this week has the mission to deliver Paz – an observational satellite heavily financed by the Spanish Ministry of Defence.
Riding alongside Paz on the recycled Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX have loaded two experimental broadband satellites.
The first test flight of Falcon Heavy is targeted for Tuesday, February 6th at 1:30 PM ET from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. When Falcon Heavy lifts off, it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two. For this test flight, Falcon Heavy’s side cores are flight-proven—both previously supported independent Falcon 9 missions in 2016.
The first two tester satellites Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b will be the predecessors to thousands of broadband satellites which will be launched over the next decade – this could open up the possibility of ‘making high-speed internet accessible anywhere on the globe’.
However, SpaceX hasn’t commented on the inclusion of the bonus payloads and has been revealed by documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission to license the company to conduct the mission.
SpaceX reportedly want to place 4,425 of the small spacecraft in low-Earth orbit – between 600-800 above the Earth’s surface, hoping to begin in the next year.
The next step would be to create a larger constellation of over 7,500 satellites placed 200 miles high, which could enable them to achieve their goal of making high-speed internet available around the world.
The microsats being launched will help the company prove the basic infrastructure of the spacecraft’s sound and will give SpaceX the chance to test ground-to-space communications. ‘Ground control to Major Tom’ indeed.
As if this doesn’t sound too bizarre to anyone who doesn’t have a basic appreciation of science and space as it is, the satellites aren’t even planned to stay in a fixed position in relation to Earth – SpaceX will have to constantly shift them as they float around in orbit above us.
SpaceX documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal show their goal is to have over 40 million customers subscribed to their service by 2025, which is reported to amount to nearly $30 billion in revenue.
FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, who’s come under pressure for his position on the issue of net neutrality, released a statement in support of SpaceX’s ambitions, which read:
I have asked my colleagues to join me in supporting this application and moving to unleash the power of satellite constellations to provide high-speed internet to rural Americans.
If adopted, it would be the first approval given to an American-based company to provide broadband services using a new generation of low-Earth orbit satellite technologies.
With SpaceX learning new approaches and improving the affordability of space exploration, the benefits of their incredible efforts in science come down to a simple economic theory: the cheaper you can provide a service, the more you can offer. The more you can offer your service to to, the more will subscribe for your service.
Whoever thought Elon Musk wasn’t a savvy businessman already?
Tim Horner is a sub-editor at UNILAD. He graduated with a BA Journalism from University College Falmouth before most his colleagues were born. A previous editor of adult mags, he now enjoys bringing the tone down in the viral news sector.