SpaceX to launch first satellites for Musk's Starlink internet service

Elon Musk Shows Off 60 Starlink Satellites Stacked Inside A Falcon Rocket

SpaceX Is Launching 60 Starlink Internet Satellites Tonight: How to Watch Live

It could even set SpaceX up to beat out competitors like Amazon and SoftBank-backed OneWeb, which each want to form internet constellations of their own. It will take 12 launches before the company can provide coverage for a significant portion of the world's population, according to Musk.

The point: to deliver global broadband internet from space.

OneWeb, founded by Greg Wyler in 2012, has said his goal is to "connect every school in the world, and bridge the digital divide".

In a phone call with journalists, Musk sounded cautious but excited. "In fact there is a small possibility that all of the satellites might not work".

A two-stage Falcon 9 rocket carrying the first 60 spacecraft in SpaceX's "Starlink" megaconstellation is scheduled to launch tonight at 10:30 p.m. EDT (0230 GMT on May 16) from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The launch will be on SpaceX's live webcast - you can live stream it here.

In each plan, the tiny satellites orbit closer to Earth than traditional communications satellites, a radical shift made possible by leaps in laser technology and computer chips. Each satellite is equipped with a navigation system that allows SpaceX to precisely position the satellites, track orbiting debris and avoid collisions.

Things seem to be looking pretty good for SpaceX to be able to launch its Starlink mission today, but if things have to be delayed there's a backup launch window already scheduled for Thursday at the same time.

As well as this, Amazon plans to launch 3,236 satellites in the next decade to provide internet to "tens of millions of people who lack basic access". But when asked about SpaceX's funding, he said the company has "sufficient capital" to carry out its plans. So don't imagine yourself using Starlink connection any time soon. While Wednesday's satellites will be nearly fully functional, Shotwell said the launch is really meant to test out how the large bank of satellites can be safely deployed into orbit - that is, without colliding with each other or winding up at the wrong altitude.

Musk said SpaceX would like to keep Starlink satellites in orbit for four to five years before deorbiting and replacing them with newer, more capable models.

"We see this as a way for SpaceX to generate revenue that can be used to develop more advanced rockets and spaceships", Musk said Wednesday. That, in turn, would help the compete fund its next generation rocket, known as Starship, the company hopes to use to fly to the moon and eventually to Mars, he said. There are options for satellite-based internet, but those services are notoriously slow, expensive or unreliable.

Completing the project may cost $10 billion or more, according to Gwynne Shotwell, the president and chief operating officer of SpaceX.

Latest News