Half a year ago I wrote about SpaceX's goal to put thousands of Internet satellites into orbit to realize the dream of a fast Internet that is available all around the globe.
Unlike current satellite Internet solutions, this new satellite network promises not only 1Gbps of bandwidth per user but also low latencies of 25-35ms. This is a lot faster than current solutions, which have a latency that's often at least twenty times higher as what SpaceX proposes. The low latency and fast speed is achieved by putting thousands of satellites into low-Earth orbit and could become a decent cash cow for the space launch company.
Now we learn SpaceX has stated in a US Senate hearing on broadband infrastructure that it wants to launch its first Internet satellites in 2019 and that it aims to achieve full capacity in 2024. A prototype satellite is expected to be launched later this year, with another to follow in the early months of 2018.
The SpaceX Internet satellites will be launched using the company's Falcon 9 rockets and they will operate on the Ka- and Ku-band frequencies. The plan requires 4,425 satellites, an astonishing number considering that's three times the number of active satellites in orbit around Earth at the moment.
[SpaceX’s vice president of satellite government affairs Patricia] Cooper said the plan would put 4,425 satellites into orbit around the Earth, operating in 83 planes, at fairly low altitudes of between 1,110 kilometers and 1,325 kilometers. The company will also support its network with ground control centers, gateway stations, and other Earth-based facilities. That makes it an ambitious plan, not least in terms of volume. There are only an estimated 1,459 satellites in orbit around our planet at the moment — the SpaceX scheme would launch triple that figure, potentially cluttering up the space around Earth, making future launches potentially difficult and dangerous.