Elon Musk plays a great hand and serves the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) with a lengthy application that aims quite high, literally. The aerospace company he runs is ready to shoot 4,425 SpaceX satellites at the Earth’s orbit. The goal? The Hawthorne, Calif.-based company wants to envelop the planet in high-speed internet coverage.
About 1,419 active satellites are currently orbiting Earth and roughly 2,600 space exploration machines out of service are floating in the dark. But put together, they still fall approximately 400 satellites short compared to Elon Musk’s bold project.
SpaceX Satellites Design
Nevertheless, older telecommunication satellites can be the size of a bus and weigh several tons. Furthermore, these metal giants circle the Earth from about 22,000 miles above. The SpaceX program, however, brings to the table a more effective top-notch mechanical engineering.
Hence, each of the SpaceX satellites weighs only 850 pounds and is no bigger than a MINI Cooper car. Furthermore, they will orbit at lower altitudes, ranging from anywhere in between 715 to 790 miles above Earth. As a result, SpaceX satellites could cover an ellipse roughly 1,300 miles wide from this ideal standpoint.
“The system is designed to provide a wide range of broadband and communications services for residential, commercial, institutional, governmental, and professional users worldwide”, writes SpaceX in its application.
SpaceX Launch Plan
If FCC approves the application, there are several steps Elon Musk will use to bring the SpaceX satellites network online. The launch plan consists of two main phases.
First of all, Musk will launch 1,600 SpaceX satellites at one orbital altitude. Next, the 2,825 remaining SpaceX satellites will follow up in four shells at different vantage points.
“With deployment of the first 800 satellites, SpaceX will be able to provide widespread U.S. and international coverage for broadband services. Once fully optimized 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 U.S. and globally”, writes SpaceX.
SpaceX Satellites Advantages
- High adaptability – phased array technology dynamically steers large pool of beams to focus capacity where needed most.
- High capacity – for 20 Gbps per satellite, the initial 1,600 units launch will benefit from a 32 Tbps aggregate capacity.
- Broadband services – speeds of up to 1 Gbps for each end user
- Worldwide coverage – once SpaceX launches all units, coverage will include the equator and poles for a full global coverage.
- Low cost – SpaceX designs the entire the system from the ground up aiming for cost-effectiveness and reliability first and foremost.
- Ease of use – SpaceX antenna design will allow a low-profile user terminal easy to set up. In addition, the terminal will operate on either walls or roofs.
- Upgrades – engineers will have to replace SpaceX satellites every seven years. This keeps the system running without glitches through continuous maintenance.
“The focus is going to be on creating a global communications system. This is quite an ambitious effort. We are really talking about something which is, in the long term, like rebuilding the Internet in space”, says Elon Musk.
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